Saturday, April 30, 2011

Onion Rings with Thai Dipping Sauce

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I've tried several methods of frying—beer batter, tempura, those pre-packaged fry mixes—but the best method I've found for doing this is making a slurry with Ener-G and water and coating the soon-to-be-fried item in cornstarch. It repels the oil perfectly and yields a crispness and golden color every time. I've added to the cornstarch mixture here some dried red chili flakes, cilantro and mint, with a dash of fresh cracked pepper. To balance out the richness of the onion rings, I made a simple sweet thai-inspired vinegar sauce.


for the dipping sauce:
1 cup water

1/2 cup rice vinegar
5 TB sugar
1 tsp salt

red chili pepper flakes

for the onion-rings:
1 medium-sized onion
1 1/2 tsp Ener-G, whisked with 5 TB water
1 cup cornstarch
2 tsp dried cilantro

1 tsp dried mint
1 tsp dried red chili flakes
a few dashes of cracked black pepper
vegetable oil
cilantro sprigs

To make the dipping sauce, bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add in the sugar and stir constantly until dissolved. Remove from the heat and add the vinegar, salt and red chili pepper flakes. Set aside or chill in the refrigerator.

Combine the cornstarch, cilantro, mint and chili flakes and pepper in a wide and shallow bowl. Set aside.

Slice the onion into 1-inch thick rings and separate. Set aside.

In a wide shallow saucepan, heat plenty of oil over medium-high heat. You can tell when the oil is ready by inserting a wooden spoon into the oil. Once it bubbles up around the spoon, its ready.

Working in batches of about 5 rings, dunk them in the Ener-G slurry, and then coat them in the cornstarch mixture. Slide them slowly into the oil and fry for about 3 minutes, or until golden brown. Place on paper towels to drain.

Serve immediately with cilantro sprigs and the dipping sauce.

A note about reusing oil: Don't throw out the unused cooking oil. It can be reused and makes fried food taste better. To store the leftover oil, let it cool completely in the saucepan. Then, using a strainer, pour into a reusable container. Store the oil in the refrigerator until your ready to use it again.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

PPK Chocolate Chip Cookies

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This is Isa Chandra Moskowitz's recipe, which can be found on the Post Punk Kitchen website. The secret to the success of these cookies is the introduction of tapioca flour into the batter. This makes the batter a little stretchy and gooey, basically mimicking what an egg would do. These are seriously the best chocolate chip cookies ever. Even though they contain no Earth Balance, they are still incredibly rich and buttery, which is a mystery ... a vegan mystery ...

Monday, April 18, 2011

Tempeh Reuben with Sriracha-Vegenaise Dressing

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During a visit to Seattle a couple of years ago, my husband and I stopped in for a bite at the Wayward Vegan Cafe. I don't remember what I ordered, but my husband got their tempeh reuben and it was the greasiest, clumsiest sandwich I've ever seen. It was also one of the most delicious sandwiches I've ever tried. I've attempted to recreate it here, and added a touch of sriracha to the vegenaise spread, which complimented the sweet smokiness of the tempeh, the brininess of the sauerkraut and the gooeyness of the daiya mozzarella. After the first bite, this instantly became our favorite weekend lunch.

1 tsp cumin seeds
1 package of tempeh, preferably pre-sliced
a few dashes of liquid smoke
a few dashes of soy sauce
1 TB dark brown sugar
dark rye bread, sliced
Earth Balance spread
Daiya or Vegan Gourmet vegan cheese, mozzarella style
prepared raw sauerkraut
4 TB Vegenaise
1 tsp sriracha, plus more to taste
olive oil

In a dry skillet, lightly toast the cumin seeds over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Set aside.

Add about a tablespoon of olive oil to the pan. Add the slices of tempeh and saute until nicely browned, about 5 minutes for each side. Before removing the tempeh to cool, sprinkle with a few dashes of liquid smoke and soy sauce. Toss in the brown sugar and flip the tempeh until well coated. Remove the tempeh to cool, and wipe out any brown sugar that may remain in the skillet.

Butter the bread with plenty of earth balance. Place in the skillet and sprinkle with a thin layer of vegan cheese over the top. While you are waiting for the bread to crisp, make the sandwich dressing by mixing together the Vegenaise and desired amount of sriracha. Set aside.

Once the bread is nicely browned and the cheese is slightly melted, remove from the skillet.

To assemble the sandwiches, place some raw sauerkraut on top of the cheese, sprinkling it with some of the toasted cumin seeds. Layer the tempeh over that, and then spread the sriracha-vegenaise dressing over that. Serve warm.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Vegan Clam Chowder

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Tal Ronnen's
cashew cream is one of my favorite vegan ingredients. Similar to heavy cream, cashew cream is rich, fatty and full of flavor. I love using it in soups because it blends so nicely and the flavor works well with any kind of broth. I've combined the cream here in a hearty vegan chowder, packed with tons of dried oyster mushrooms and fresh king oyster stems. To infuse a rich smokiness into the broth, I melted down some raw virgin coconut oil and added a bit of liquid smoke and soy sauce. I really enjoyed making this on a late Sunday afternoon, developing the flavors and just enjoying the process before having this as a fabulous dinner that night.

2 cups of raw cashews, soaked overnight
3 1/2 cups red potatoes, diced with skin left on
2 cups dried oyster mushrooms
2 TB raw coconut oil
1 tsp liquid smoke
1 tsp soy sauce
2 cups white onion, diced
8 cloves garlic, sliced
2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp fresh black cracked pepper
1/2 TB salt
1/3 cup flour
3 TB mirin
9 cups fresh homemade stock, with a Not-chick'n bouillon cube thrown in
3 bay leaves
1 cup oyster mushroom stems, sliced into scallop-sized pieces (optional)
earth balance
olive oil
dried parsley

Make the cashew cream by placing the cashews in a blender. Add enough water so it slightly just covers the cashews. Blend for 3-4 minutes. Set aside.

Boil the diced potatoes in plenty of water until softened, but still al dente, about 8-10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Heat 2 cups of the stock in a small saucepan. Turn off the heat and add the mushrooms. Place a lid on top and let sit for 15 minutes. Drain and set aside with the potatoes.

In a large stockpot, melt the coconut oil over medium heat. Add the liquid smoke, soy sauce and onion. Saute for about 7 minutes. Add in the garlic and saute for 2 minutes more. Add in the thyme, pepper and salt. Add in the flour, stirring briskly to avoid scorching. Add in the mirin to deglaze the pot.

Add in the 7 cups of remaining stock and bay leaf. Bring the stock to a boil and then immediately turn down the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Test the stock and add more salt and pepper if desired.

Add to the pot the cashew cream, potatoes, mushroom pieces and cashew cream. Simmer for just a few minutes more. If you'd like to top the soup with some mushroom scallops, toss them in some melted earth balance and dried parsley and saute for a few minutes, until they are slightly toasted around the edges. Serve with oyster crackers or biscuits.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Spinach, Mushroom and Soysage Tart

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I made this tart the other night from a bunch of leftovers in the fridge that is similar to a pasta dish I recently created. I really like making savory tarts: you can combine a wide range of complimentary ingredients and spices into the tart and it will always come out of the oven tasting terrific. The one and only thing that this kind of tart demands is a filling that is really dry—if there is any significant amount of liquid in the filling, your crust will get soggy and bubble over when you bake it. So be sure to press your tofu and spinach really well, and saute your onions and mushrooms until most of the liquid is evaporated. This is perfect for a weekend brunch or light dinner.

7 oz. Gimmie Lean soysage, roughly chopped
1 tsp fennel seeds
fresh cracked pepper
1 cup of onion, finely diced
1/2 cup bella mushrooms, sliced
10 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly
10 oz. tofu, pressed very well
5 oz. Follow Your Heart brand mozzarella, grated
12 oil cured olives, depitted and roughly chopped
1 pound fresh spinach
1 tsp dried or about 10 leaves fresh basil
1 tsp dried or 1 sprig of fresh thyme
1 prepared pie crust (I used Wholly Wholesome's Organic Traditional Pie Shell)
olive oil

In a large skillet, heat about a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the soysage and, while it is browning, break it up into small pieces with a wooden spoon. After about 10 minutes, the soysage should be nicely browned. Add the fennel seeds and fresh cracked pepper to the pan and saute for a minute or two more. Transfer the soysage to a large bowl to cool.

Add the minced onion to the skillet, until nicely browned and dried, about 10 minutes. Add in the sliced garlic and saute for a few minutes more. Add that mixture to the bowl with the soysage. (Make sure that all of the liquid has evaporated before doing this.)

Preheat your oven to 350.

Add the mushrooms to the pan, with a little more olive oil if needed. Saute until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 7 minutes. Transfer to the bowl to cool.

Crumble the pressed tofu into the pan, giving it a good squeeze through your fingers. Saute for a few minutes. Add the fresh or dried thyme and basil to the mix and stir until well combined. Transfer to the bowl.

Return to the pan, adding in small handfuls of spinach until wilted. Once all of the spinach has wilted, drain off any excess liquid from the pan and blot with papertowels until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Add the spinach to the bowl. Then
add in the grated mozzarella and olives to the bowl and stir until well combined.

Gently spoon the mixture into the pie crust and smooth out the top with the back of a large spoon. Bake for 45 minutes. This is best when allowed to cool and then served at room temperature.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Chickpea Salad Sandwich

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Right after tofu, my favorite protein is the chickpea. Both of these things are totally blank canvases for developing and building upon any flavor you want. Because the chickpea is such a simple, cheap and easy ingredient to use, I always have multiple cans of them stored away in my kitchen cabinet. For this application (which makes perfect lunches for throughout the week), I combined chickpeas, pulsed a few times in a food processor with Vegenaise, a bit of red onion and carrot. It's an excellent lunch—filling, nutritious and simple.

15 oz. can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup Vegenaise, plus more to taste
1 TB tahini
1/4 cup finely minced red onion (optional)
1/4 cup grated carrot (optional)
2 tsp celery seed
1 tsp salt

Place the chickpeas into a food processor and pulse a few times to break them up. You want them to still be a little chunky. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the rest of the ingredients. Add the chopped chickpeas to the bowl and combine well. Chill until ready to serve.