Saturday, September 22, 2012

Raw Tahini and Cashew Dressing

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Although I've never gotten too terribly excited over a salad bar or restaurant salads, I do love a big bowl of raw kale. I usually use this dressing recipe on kale salads, but recently came up with this five-ingredient, raw tahini-based recipe, which perfectly compliments the taste and texture of raw kale. This dressing is rich and creamy, and perfectly balanced out by the subtle tang of raw apple cider vinegar. This dressing is easy to whip up, transforms a raw kale salad into a robust and filling dish in minutes and will dress several salads throughout the week.   

3/4 cup raw cashews (dry or soaked overnight)
3/4 cup raw tahini
2 tsps raw apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
1/4 tsp salt
raw kale, washed and dried and ripped into bite-sized pieces

Grind the cashews in a small food processor until very crumbly, about a minute. Add in the rest of the ingredients and process until smooth, about a minute more.

To make the salad, place washed and dried kale pieces into a large prep bowl. Douse the kale with some of the dressing, then stir it around in the bowl in a circular motion. Serve immediately.

This also makes a great coating for kale chips. Place the coated kale into a food dehydrator set at 130 degrees for 8 hours.  

Store leftover dressing in a glass container. It may be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Zucchini and Lemongrass Fritters

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Fritters are fabulous food. Crisp and and golden on the outside and soft and piping hot inside, they are perfect for making and eating during these early days of fall. I made these fresh and savory fritters using two extra zucchini I had leftover from making ratatouille last weekend, as well as a couple of lemongrass stalks and parsley I needed to use up. These were very easy to make, addictive after the first bite and looked really pretty fresh off the skillet.

2 medium-sized zucchini

1 large shallot, chopped
2 lemongrass hearts, chopped (reserve the outer husks for making tea or broth later)
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
1 TB chickpea flour
5 TB plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp Ener-G, whisked with 2 TB water
pinch of turmeric (optional, for color)
salt and pepper
vegetable  oil, for frying
Tofutti sour cream, for serving
extra chopped fresh parsley, for serving


Cut off both end of the zucchini and grate them on the coarse end of a box grater. Place the shredded zucchini onto a tea towel or a very fine cloth mesh strainer, and squeeze until almost all of the water has been removed. They should be really dry, almost crumbly after you are done. Place into a bowl and sprinkle with a little salt, then add in the chopped shallot, lemongrass hearts and parsley. Stir gently until well combined.

Add in the flours and baking powder, then stir again until well coated. Add in the Energ-G/water mixture and stir until everything is coated evenly. Add in a pinch of turmeric and salt and pepper as desired. Then cover and place into the freezer for 20 minutes to chill, or into the refrigerator for 45 minutes up to a few hours to chill.

When you are ready to make the fritters, preheat a large skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Then add in 2-3 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Form 3-inch diameter-sized flattened cakes, and place into the pan to fry for about 4-5 minutes on each side.

Serve immediately with the vegan sour cream and fresh chopped parsely.


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Vegan Grilled Cheese with Smoky Tomato Soup

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If someone told me two years ago that I'd be making vegan grilled cheese sandwiches that tasted just like grilled cheese sandwiches out of coconut milk, coconut vinegar and agar powder and blogging about it, I would have thought they were out of their mind. The first assumption I would have made is that it would taste like coconut, which would be incorrect. The second assumption I would have made it that it would taste like cheese, but in weird, fake and compromising way, which would also be incorrect. This cheese is simply fantastic and has been an obsession of mine since I whipped up my first batch of it last February (although I tweak this version a bit each time based on the type of cheese I'm trying to recreate). Serve this grilled cheese by itself or with the best accompaniment—homey and comforting smoky tomato soup—for a perfect lunch or light dinner that's easy to make and amazing to eat.


for the cheese (this version tastes best when melted and warmed)
1/2 can full-fat coconut milk (6.83 fl. oz.)
1/2 tsp coconut vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp agar powder
1/2 TB tapioca flour
1 TB nooch

for the soup
1 TB olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, smashed
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
a few dashes of liquid smoke
1 cup of prepared crushed roma tomatoes (I used Eden brand)
2 cups of homemade stock or Imagine brand No-Chicken broth

for the sandwich
4 pieces of sandwich bread
Earth Balance vegan butter, softened at room temperature

To make the cheese, combine all of the cheese ingredients except for the nooch in a small saucepan. Whisk briskly continuously until the mixture comes to a boil. Remove it from the heat, stir in the nooch and transfer it to a small pyrex dish. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

To make the soup, heat the oil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Add in the onions and saute until translucent and slightly browned, about seven minutes. Reduce the heat to medium low, then add in the garlic, spices and liquid smoke. Allow to saute for about 3 minutes, stirring occassionally. Now add in the prepared roma tomatoes and vegan broth. Return the heat to medium until the soup comes to a very small boil. Then dial the heat back down to low and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes.

At this point, you can remove the soup from the heat and blend well with an immersion blender. You can also transfer to a blender, just make sure that the soup has completely cooled before doing so.

To make the sandwiches, place a 1/2 Tb of Earth Balance into a skillet over medium heat.  Spread one of the slices of bread with a thin layer of the cheese, then place the bread, cheese side up, on the skillet. Swirl it around to ensure it gets coated well with the vegan butter. Spread the other slice of bread with the softened butter and place it, butter side up, on top. Allow the bread to nicely brown on one side before flipping it over with a spatula, about 4 minutes. Sprinkle with a little salt on top if desired.

Serve immediately with the warmed soup.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

VeganMoFo 2012

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VeganMoFo 2012 will begin this year on October 1. I participated last year, and it was an amazing way to connect with other vegan bloggers, challenge myself with coming up with new ideas and be a part of a cohesive and amazing group of folks with a shared passion throughout the month of October. 

If you'd like to participate in VeganMoFo 2012, you can sign-up here by September 26!

More ways to connect:

VeganMoFo Facebook Page
VeganMoFo on Twitter
List of 2012 MoFoers (updated!)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Clementine, Basil and Lime Sorbet

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The last time I was in Chinatown, I spotted a huge mound of glossy clementines and picked up several of them which I used to make this crumbly, airy, tart, and not-to-sweet sorbet. The addition of lime here gives it a little extra zing while the basil helps balance everything out. This dessert is simple, vibrant, amazingly light and perfectly refreshing.

for the syrup
1 TB clementine zest
zest of one lime
6 basil leaves, finely chopped
1 TB sugar
pinch salt
1/3 cup water

for the sorbet
6 clementines, peeled and quartered
1 lime, peeled and quartered
1 cup water


The day before making the sorbet, place the ice cream bowl component of an ice cream maker into the freezer to chill.

To make the sorbet, place all of the syrup ingredients into a small saucepan. Simmer over low heat for about 5 minutes. Transfer to a blender and puree. Add in the clementines, lime and 1 cup of water. Puree again, then place in the refrigerator to chill completely.

Pour the entire mixture into the chilled ice cream bowl component and process according to the manufacturer's instructions. Serve immediately and store any leftovers in the freezer.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Ratatouille (Confit Byaldi)

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While I was sifting through several ratatouille recipes and methods online this week, I discovered that there are several "correct" ways to make it. Some involve roasting the vegetables separately while others require chopping everything up and making a stew, and others involve layering and slow-roasting the vegetables together. Originally invented by French peasants, ratatouille was designed to be an economical and uncomplicated way to use up all of the late-summer vegetables together in a stew. It was only later that Chef Thomas Keller revamped this concept when he was asked by Pixar to make a fancier version of the dish for the movie, Ratatouille, and named his version "confit byaldi." This version involves placing thinly sliced vegetables accordion style and baking them together in one pan.

Ratatouille is already vegan, so the traditional components don't really need to be adjusted. However, I left out the red pepper and added in oil-cured olives for this version. This tasted great right out of the oven, but was even better the next day, after all of the flavors have had a chance to mingle a bit. Serve it with some bread and red wine for a simple and pretty September dinner.

1 TB olive oil
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
5 cloves garlic, sliced
2 TB flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 TB fresh basil, chopped
1/2 cup crushed roma tomatoes (I used a prepared version)
1/2 small onion, sliced
1 small zucchini, sliced on a mandoline slicer
1 small squash, sliced on a mandoline slicer
1 small eggplant, sliced on a mandoline slicer

1 tomato, chopped
extra parsley, chopped (for serving)
handful of oil-cured olives, chopped (for serving)

Place the olive oil and chopped onion in a small cast-iron pan over low heat. After about 5 minutes, sprinkle it with the thyme, oregano, salt and pepper flakes. Let it simmer for about 15 minutes without stirring. Add in the garlic and stir everything around. Let simmer for about 10 minutes more. Add in the fresh parsley, basil and roma tomato sauce. Stir to combine and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes more.

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees.

Remove the pan from the heat and place onto a potholder on your countertop. Distribute the sliced onion onto the bottom.

Place a zucchini slice in the middle, then cover it with a squash slice so only the rind part is showing. Place an eggplant slice on top of that and repeat the process until you've created a spiral design in one long strand around your entire pan. It took me about 20 minutes to get all of the slices placed as evenly as possible. Sprinkle the chopped tomatoes over the top. Place a piece of circular parchment paper on top of the pan, then place a piece of foil over the entire pan. Place into the oven to bake for 2 hours.

After 2 hours, remove the parchment paper and foil. Increase the oven heat to 400 degrees, then bake for an additional 20-30 minutes, or until the top is slightly brown.

Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and olives.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Fresh From the Vegan Slow Cooker  Review and Giveaway! [Closed]

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UPDATE: The two winners of the giveaway are Tiffany K. and Kittee - congratulations!

The nice folks over at Harvard Common Press let me know that Robin Robertson—seasoned chef, food blogger and highly acclaimed author of 19 well-known cookbooks—will be releasing her latest cookbook, Fresh From the Vegan Slow Cooker, in early October, and are offering two free hot-off-the-press copies through this blog post. I'm excited about this new release because I already own two of Robin's cookbooks, Vegan Fire and Spice and Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker, which I love, refer to and use often.

Robin's new cookbook is filled with innovative ideas, tips and recipes for your slow cooker, which include dips, pâtés, innovative soups, filling main courses and desserts. It's also a great reminder that slow cookers are not only a convenient tool in the kitchen, but also amazing vessels for creating a countless array of unique and delicious recipes.

One fresh and novel idea among many included in Robin's cookbook is her Puttanesca Pizza (pictured above). Homemade dough is placed into the vessel to create a deep-dish style pizza, which looks and tastes absolutely amazing. After about 20 minutes, it creates a beautiful aroma and, when it's done, produces a perfect crust with a pillowy soft center. During cooking time, the toppings develop a complex taste and texture, creating the perfect pizza without a lot of work. I love this recipe and method for its ease and innovation, which is a common theme throughout Robin's new cookbook, which includes other amazing recipes like caramelized onion soup, seitan ropa vieja, slow-cooker pho and french toast bread pudding.

Now, on to the giveaway!

Two lucky readers who comment on this post will each receive a new copy of Robin's latest cookbook directly from the publisher. (To be released on October 2.) To enter the giveaway, you may enter separate comments for any or all of the following to be entered into the drawing, and I will use to choose the two winners.

  • Simply leave a comment below, including your favorite slow cooker recipe;
  • tweet about this giveaway, using this optional text and shortlink: Enter to win Robin Robertson's newest cookbook! #freshfromtheveganslowcooker;
  • pin one of these pictures to Pinterest, indicating that it's a giveaway;
  • leave a comment that includes the title of your favorite Robin Robertson cookbook; and/or
  • post a link to this giveaway on Facebook.

All comment(s) should include some way to contact you in the case you are a giveaway winner. The giveaway will close at midnight on September 28 and the two winners will be announced at 9 a.m. ET on September 29. Good luck!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Cheese-Stuffed Homemade Ravioli with White Wine Sauce

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I recently had the opportunity to take a cooking class in Boston's North End, where I learned to make pasta dough for ravioli. It was a unique experience for me to be taught a method/process by a real live person (who has been making pasta for more than 30 years!), as I usually just go to YouTube or watch The Food Network to learn these kinds of things. The ingredients were definitely not vegan but, as I watched the process, I began to put together the things I would do to veganize it, which are all pretty easy. I loved replicating the process myself at home to produce a soft and nicely textured pasta, stuffed with two kinds of vegan cheese and finished off with a fantastic white wine sauce.

The steps to make all of the components here are a little time consuming; however, I found the whole process of making ravioli, as well as all of the other components, to be a nice, meditative process—and one that was worth the extra work and effort in the end. This recipe makes enough for three dinners for two, as you can freeze the ravioli and broth in measured portions, which makes prep for future dinners a breeze. 

INGREDIENTS (to make 36 raviolis)
for the cheese filling
1 can of full-fat coconut milk
1 tsp coconut vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp powdered agar
2 TB nutritional yeast
1/2 cup of Daiya mozzarella shreds
pinch of dried nutmeg
a few dashes of fresh-cracked pepper

for the broth (to use in the sauce)
4 TB olive oil
2 large onions, roughly diced
10 oz white mushrooms, quartered
1 TB large-crystal salt
4 cups water

for the pasta dough
3 tsp of The Vegg
6 tsp Ener-G
3/4 cup water
2 cups "00" flour

for the sauce
1 TB Earth Balance
1 TB olive oil
1/2 cup bella mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 shallots, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 cup onion-mushroom broth (listed above)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
3 TB chopped fresh parsley

To make the cheese: Bring the coconut milk, vinegar, salt and agar powder to a small boil in a saucepan. Remove from the heat and stir in the nutritional yeast. Pour into a glass pyrex dish to gel in the refrigerator for about an hour.

Place the gelled cheese into a bowl and mash well with a fork. Add in the Daiya shreds and stir well to combine. Add in the pepper and nutmeg. Place back into the refrigerator.

To make the broth: Place all of the broth ingredients into a large pot and saute for about 25 minutes over medium heat, stirring frequently. Increase the heat to high, then add in the 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then immediately dial the heat back down to medium-low, and simmer for about an hour. Once it is cooled, squeeze the cooked vegetables over a bowl, then discard. Then strain the rest of the broth. Transfer to a container and place into the refrigerator.

To make the pasta dough: Place The Vegg, Ener-G and water into a Kitchen Aid Mixer or blender. Combine at the highest setting.

Pour out the 2 cups of flour into one pile on your countertop. Make a well in the center, then add half of the "egg" mixture. Knead it a bit, then add the rest of the egg mixture. The dough should be soft and silky, and should not stick to your fingers. Add a few splashes of water or extra flour as needed to achieve this consistency.

Separate the dough into four pieces and roll them into ball shapes. Flatten them out slightly. Place on a cutting board and drape a damp towel over it. Let the dough rest for 30-45 minutes.

To roll out your pasta: Flour your work area (I did this directly on my countertop), then take one of the pieces of dough and flatten it out using a rolling pin (I used this). Try to get it as thin as possible, and to apply consistent pressure to ensure that the thickness of the pasta is consistent throughout.

I used a ravioli mold to make these.

1. Flour the mold. Drape a piece of the rolled-out pasta over it. Place the plastic piece over the top to create little dip to place your cheese into. Remove it.

2. Fill the dips with your cheese mixture, about a teaspoon full. I placed a parsley leaf in first:

3. Next, roll out another piece of pasta, then drape it over the top. Using your fingers, gently press down all over the top to get rid of any air in between the cheese and pasta:

4. Take a rolling pin and roll it around the edges only (I found it easier to do this than to go over the entire top portion):

5. Remove the dough carefully from around the edges. Then, slowly turn it upside-down and gently push out the pasta with your fingers. Keep it really close to the counter. Then cut them apart, using a pasta wheel:

6. They are so pretty!

7. Place them on a rack to dry out for about an hour:

8. Place the raviolis in a single layer in a plastic bag. Place onto a cutting board for support, then place them into the freezer until ready to use:

When you are ready to make some of the pasta, remove the desired number from the freezer to slightly thaw for about 20 minutes before boiling.

To make your white wine sauce:
Place the Earth Balance and olive oil into a skillet over medium heat. Add in the mushrooms, and saute for about 5 minutes. Then add in the shallots and garlic. Saute until softened, for 2-3 minutes more.

Turn the heat up to high, then add in the white wine. Allow  to sizzle for a few minutes, then add in the broth and salt and allow to reduce by half. Then throw in the walnuts for about a minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley.

To boil the pasta:
bring plenty of salted water to a boil in a large pot. Add only 4-5 pieces of ravioli at a time, and boil for only a few minutes, until the pasta rises to the top of the pot.

Serve the pasta piping hot with some of the wine wine sauce on top.