Makes about 30 pieces
Active time: about 45 minutes
Passive time: 2-3 hours, to soften the jackfruit
I used to love eating crab rangoon at Chinese buffets or ordering it for takeout, so when I had a random hankering for this deep-fried item of sin this weekend, I made a vegan version of them. I replaced the cream cheese easily with Tofutti non-hydrogenated cream cheese, but was stumped on what to use for the crab. I had tempeh on hand, which I have used to make crab cakes before, but when I looked deeper into my cupboards, I came across a can of young green jackfruit—which I found in Chinatown a couple months ago for under two dollars—and decided that this would function as my "crab" for this application. These of course taste best deep fried, but can also be folded into triangles and baked instead. A Thai chili sauce provides the perfect blend of heat and sweetness to balance out this this rich and decadent dish.
20 oz. can of young green jackfruit, in brine or water
2 cups vegetable broth
1, 8 oz. tub of Tofutti brand non-hydrogenated cream cheese (softened at room temperature for about an hour before using)
1 scallion, thinly sliced
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
square vegan wonton wrappers (or make your own)
canola or grapeseed oil
prepared Thai chili sauce (or make your own)
black and white sesame seeds
Place the jackfruit into a crockpot with the broth, ensuring all pieces are covered with the liquid, adding a bit more broth if needed. Cook the jackfruit for 2-3 hours on the highest setting.
Remove the jackfruit from the broth (you can reserve the broth for using later), and shred it up as finely as possible with a fork and knife. It should be really soft and almost fall apart. Discard any seeds or tough pieces. Measure out 1 cup of the shredded jackfruit and place it into a bowl. (Use any leftover jackfruit to make this salad or other jackfruit recipes.)
Add in the scallion and sesame oil, and mix to combine. Then, add in the softened vegan cream cheese and stir until well combined. Set aside.
To deep fry them, place several inches of canola or grapeseed oil into a small saucepan. To prepare them for frying, place a teaspoon of the filling in the center of the wonton, then fold them. I folded them by dabbing water at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o'clock, then folded 12 and 6 o'clock up like a taco, then pushed in the sides at 3 and 9 o'clock, pinching them well to form a seal.
Heat the oil over medium-high heat for about 7 minutes. Throw a pinch of the filling into the oil. If it sizzle immediately, you are ready to fry.
Slowly drop 2 of the wontons into the hot oil until golden brown (it should only take 45 seconds or so). Transfer to a paper towel to drain, and repeat until all of the wontons are fried.
To bake them, preheat your oven to 425. Place a teaspoon of filling in the center of a wonton. Run a bit of water with your finger around all of the edges, then fold it over to create a triangle. Place them onto a well-oiled baking sheet. Bake for about 7 minutes on one side (or until golden brown), flip, then bake the other side for an additional 4 minutes, or until golden brown.
Serve immediately with the homemade or prepared Thai chili sauce.
Sunday, June 30, 2013
Thursday, June 27, 2013
Makes 30 truffles
Active time: about 50 minutes
Passive time: about 3-4 hours, for chilling
I've been eating a lot of farro lately. This toothsome, slightly nutty and versatile grain is easy to cook, cheap and packed full of nutrients. The other day, I prepared some farro for breakfast, adding in some shredded coconut, vegan butter and raw agave* and it reminded me of German Chocolate Cake frosting (which I haven't had in many years). The taste and texture was spot on from what I remember, but slathering this over cake didn't seem quite right, so I added in a few more steps and ingredients to make truffles instead. The farro in this adorable two-bite dessert stands in place of pecans (which I have nothing against), giving the filling some subtle bulk and a nice bite.
*If you'd like to try this as a breakfast porridge instead, just follow the first two paragraphs under METHOD below, reducing the amount of shredded coconut to 1/3 cup. It will yield two servings.
1/2 cup farro
3 cups water
1 TB Earth Balance
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
2 TB raw agave syrup
3/4 cup canned coconut milk
2 rounded teaspoons of cornstarch, dissolved in 2 TB water
1/2 TB liquid lecithin (optional)
2 cups vegan chocolate chips (I used Guittard brand)
1 tsp vanilla extract or 1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
Rinse the farro in a fine mesh strainer under a few exchanges of cold water. Combine the farro and water in a medium-sized saucepan over high heat. Once it comes to a boil, reduce to a simmer for about 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, test the farro. It should be firm to the bite. Drain and rinse the farro under cold water and transfer to a bowl.
Add in the vegan butter, salt, shredded coconut, and agave. If you want this as a breakfast porridge, stop here and serve immediately with a few splashes of almond milk.
If you'd like to make the truffles, proceed by adding the coconut milk to a small saucepan. Bring to a small simmer, and add in the cornstarch/water mixture, stir until slightly thick, then transfer and fold into the farro mixture. Add in the liquid lecithin, stir again, then place it the freezer to chill for about an hour.
After an hour, the truffle filling should be cold but still pliable. To form the spheres, scoop out a heaping teaspoon of the mixture. Roll into a sphere between your palms, repeating the process until the filling is gone.
Place the spheres onto a baking sheet lined with a silpat. Then, place into the freezer to set for an hour or two.
Once you are ready to cover the spheres in chocolate, create a double boiler by placing a few inches of water into a saucepan. Place a glass pyrex bowl over the saucepan, ensuring that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl.
Place the chocolate chips into the bowl and slowly stir, allowing them to melt. Once the chocolate is fully melted, add in the vanilla and stir again. Reduce the heat to its lowest setting.
Toss a few of the spheres into the melted chocolate. Rotate them with a spoon until well coated, then transfer them back onto the silpat, repeating the process until the mixture is gone. Place in the refrigerator to chill. After an hour or so, they can be removed from the silpat and placed into a tupperware container and stored in the refrigerator.
Allow the truffles to sit out at room temperature for 10-15 minutes before serving.
Sunday, June 23, 2013
Time: about 30 minutes
My favorite way to prepare tofu is also the quickest and easiest. It requires no pressing or marinating and is virtually foolproof, yet involves a little danger. Let me explain: to achieve this level of caramelization on the outside while retaining a succulent texture inside, you'll need lots of heat and moisture, which causes little explosions and angry pops inside a covered pan throughout the cooking time. However, once these mini blasts calm down, you'll be left with perfect tofu in front of you in minutes. Here I've served it with some simple ramen and wilted kale to make a quick and easy weeknight dinner.
1 TB olive oil
1 package firm tofu
6 oz. package of ramen noodles
1/3 cup of Everything Sauce
1 heaping tsp cornstarch, dissolved in 1 TB cold water
2-3 cups of fresh kale, washed, destemmed and ripped into bite-sized pieces
handful of raw cashews
1 TB toasted sesame oil
black and white sesame seeds
Cut the tofu into 4 thick slabs, then cut each slab in half to make 8 squares.
Place a large circular non-stick, flat bottomed pan over medium-high heat. Drizzle the oil into the pan, then fan the tofu around the edges of the pan in a single layer (like the petals on a daisy), leaving the center area open. Place a lid over the top and allow the tofu to caramelize for about 10 minutes, undisturbed. It will pop and sputter due to the high heat and moisture in the tofu.
While your tofu is caramelizing, bring a medium-sized pot of water to a boil. Add in the noodles and cook according to package instructions. Rinse under cool water and set aside once done.
Return to your tofu. After the initial 10 minute caramelization is complete, lift the lid straight up carefully (if you tilt the lid, the collected condensation in the lip will drip into the pan, causing more sputtering, so use caution.) Carefully flip the tofu (it will pop and sizzle), cover and allow to caramelize on the other side undisturbed for about 3 minutes. Remove the lid again by pulling it straight up. By this time, most of the water should be expressed/absorbed, so you can now leave the lid off. Reduce the heat to medium and continue to monitor the tofu and remove it from the pan once the level of caramelization is achieved on both sides. Place the tofu pieces onto a plate to cool while you prepare the rest of the dish.
Throw the kale into the same pan you cooked the tofu in. It may also initially sputter, so use caution. Saute for just a few minutes, stirring occasionally.
While your kale is sauteeing, divide the cooked ramen into two bowls. When your kale is done, divide that into the two bowls.
Now increase the heat in the same saute pan to medium high. Add in the Everything Sauce and heat until it bubbles, stirring with a rubber spatula. Add in the cornstarch/water mixture and stir until thick. Now throw the cooked tofu back into the pan and stir and toss to coat. Turn off the heat and divide the tofu and sauce between the two bowls.
Top the tofu and noodles with the black and white sesame seeds and sriracha, and toss some raw cashews over the top. Drizzle the toasted sesame oil over the noodles and serve immediately.
Thursday, June 20, 2013
Time: 10-15 minutes
This sauce delivers a little bit of sweetness, a touch of saltiness and a hint of smoke which makes it perfect for putting on almost, well ... everything. I love the flavor combination in this sauce so much that I found myself throwing together slight variations of it week after week to drizzle over soup or noodles or to marinate tofu in. Although whipping up this sauce is quick and easy, there's no reason it can't be made in a larger batch, then used throughout the week as needed. This sauce has an array of uses, including:
- a marinade for thoroughly pressed tofu;
- a sauce for drizzling over cooked noodles, soups and greens; and
- a glaze for grilled/sauteed tofu (see METHOD below on how to thicken it)
Thai chilis are completely optional here, of course, and can be subbed with something milder, like a squirt of sriracha or roasted red chili paste, or left out altogether. The sauce will still produce a mild yet flavorful all-purpose staple in your kitchen.
2 TB dark sesame oil
1 TB fresh ginger, grated or finely minced
1 TB garlic, grated or finely minced
2/3 cup mirin or broth
2 TB soy sauce or liquid aminos
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 TB brown sugar or raw agave syrup
1-2 fresh thai chilis, sliced or sriracha or red pepper flakes (optional)
Heat the sesame oil in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the ginger and garlic into the oil and stir. Allow to soften and slightly mellow for a few minutes, but don't allow it to brown.
Turn the heat up to medium, then add in the mirin, soy sauce, vinegar and sugar or agave. Allow the mixture to come to a very small simmer for a minute or two. If using brown sugar, allow it to dissolve completely.
Remove it from the heat and allow it to cool. Add in the thai chilis or sriracha if you want it spicy.
Store in a glass container for up to a week in the refrigerator.
To thicken the sauce, dissolve 1 rounded teaspoon of cornstarch in 1 tablespoon of cold water. Place half of sauce into a small saucepan and bring to a very small simmer. Pour the cornstarch/water mixture into the sauce and stir with a rubber spatula or whisk until thick. Remove from the heat and pour over sauteed or grilled tofu.
Sunday, June 16, 2013
Makes 6 burgers
Time: about 45 minutes
One of my favorite parts of summer is having dinner outside with my husband, eating something that he's grilled and spending some time together at the end of the day. I love the ritual of piling plates, utensils and whatever else we need onto a tray and taking them outside, watching him set the timer on his watch to ensure he gets the grilling times right, and sipping iced tea while watching random cars go by. Although it's nothing too elaborate, I always remember and enjoy those meals the most, perhaps because of these little rituals, or maybe just because it's nice to sit outside while the day's heat and brightness lift a little, and everything is calm and quiet.
While I am usually content with throwing a variation of this burger or a marinated portobello mushroom on the grill, I wanted to make something different and new this weekend. I decided to make a burger using farro and walnuts for texture, mashed sweet potato kissed with rosemary for some contrast, and vital wheat gluten, panko crumbs and a little tahini to bind everything together. These work beautifully on the grill, producing a toothsome and flavorful bite that sits perfectly in a bun layered with kale, homemade pickles and red onion.
for the burger
1/2 cup farro
2 cups water
small sweet potato, cut into 1X1 cubes
1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
1 cup panko crumbs
1/2 cup vital wheat gluten
1/8 cup olive oil
1/8 cup tahini
2 TB vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp dried thyme
1 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp black pepper
for the pickles
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cucumber, sliced on a mandoline slicer
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp caraway seeds
buns, kale leaves, sliced red onion, Tofutti or Daiya slices, fresh tomato, vegan A-1 sauce and ketchup
To make the burgers, rinse the farro and place it into a saucepan with the water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and allow to cook at a low boil, uncovered, for about 15 minutes. Drain off any excess water and place the farro into a bowl or Kitchen Aid mixer.
Bring a medium-sized pot of water to a boil. Add in the cubed sweet potato and cook until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain the sweet potatoes very well, mash, and measure out 1 cup, then add it with the farro. Any leftover sweet potatoes can be eaten later or used to make croquettes or gyozas.
Add in the rest of the burger ingredients and knead with your hands or in a Kitchen aid mixer for 3-4 minutes, to allow the gluten to develop.
Shape the mixture into 6 equal pieces. Roll into spheres, then flatten them out between your palms a bit. You can either grill them immediately or store them in the refrigerator until you're ready to grill.
To make the pickles, bring the water and rice vinegar to a boil. Add in the salt and sugar and stir until dissolved. Add in the sliced cucumbers and stir. Sprinkle the seeds over the top, cover with a lid and remove from the heat. Once it's cool enough, transfer to a glass container and allow to chill and marinate in the refrigerator for a few hours up to a couple of days before eating (they taste best after a few days). The pickles will last about a week in the refrigerator.
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Makes about 100, 1-inch gnocchi pieces
Total time: 45 minutes to an hour
During my last visit to Chinatown, I picked up some taro with no real plan on how I was going to use it. After seeing some gorgeous pictures of potato gnocchi on Pinterest, I decided to make a taro-based version, and loved how easy and blissfully meditative the gnocchi-making process turned out to be.
After a quick boil of the taro, I pureed it to create a subtly purple mash, and spiked it with some Chinese Five-spice powder (which I've used before and love), then sprinkled with "00" flour to create a fluffy dough. The dough was separated into six pieces, rolled into long strips, then chopped into 1-inch pieces. After boiling a small batch, I decided they needed a quick saute, which produced a flavor reminiscent of french toast or funnel cake. So it became a dessert, which I rounded out with a savory salted coconut sauce and a dark and subtly sweet raw chocolate sauce. Once drizzled over the warmed gnocchi, everything sort of melted together, creating a beautiful and unique dessert.
This recipe makes a lot of gnocchi, so I froze them on a baking sheet lined with a silpat, then transferred them to a ziploc bag. They can then simply be pulled from the bag as needed, defrosted, boiled and sauteed for an easy dessert.
for the gnocchi
500 grams taro, cubed
1 1/2 tsp Ener-G, whisked with 2 TB water
1/2 tsp Chinese 5-spice powder
120 grams of "00" flour
extra "00" flour, for dusting
for the coconut sauce (makes enough for 2-4 servings)
1 TB Earth Balance vegan butter
small can (5.46 fl. oz.) unsweetened coconut milk
1/4 tsp salt
for the chocolate sauce (makes enough for 2-4 servings)
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Ghirardelli brand)
1/8 cup raw agave syrup (add more to sweeten as desired)
halved fresh cherries
extra raw agave syrup
Boil the cubed taro in plenty of salted water for 10-12 minutes, or until it mashes easily with a fork. Drain very well, mash and add the Ener-G/water mixture, along with the Chinese 5-spice, then puree with an immersion blender until silky. Add about half of the flour, and stir to combine while the taro mixture is still warm. Then, add in the rest of the flour to form a slightly sticky and shaggy ball.
Transfer to a well-floured surface and allow the taro ball to slightly cool. Knead for about 3 minutes, tossing in little handfuls of extra "00" flour until it is no longer sticky. Divide into 6 pieces, then roll each one into a long 1-inch thick piece, then cut into 1-inch thick pieces.
Place the gnocchi pieces so they are not touching each other on a baking sheet lined with a silpat. You can either proceed to boiling/sauteing the desired amount of gnocchi to serve immediately, or you can place the entire baking sheet in the freezer, then transfer the frozen gnocchi to a ziploc bag once they are frozen. Just let them thaw out a bit before boiling them.
To make the coconut sauce, melt the vegan butter, coconut milk and salt together in a small saucepan. Once it reaches a small simmer, remove from the heat. Place in the refrigerator to chill. Before serving, allow it to sit out at room temperature while you boil/saute your gnocchi.
To make the chocolate sauce, melt the coconut oil in a saucepan or microwave, then whisk in the cocoa powder. Add in the agave, taste, and add more until desired sweetness is achieved. Place in the refrigerator to chill. Before serving, melt it in the microwave for a few seconds to achieve a pourable consistency.
To cook the gnocchi, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add in the desired amount of gnocchi. They will immediately sink to the bottom—once they rise to the top after a couple of minutes, they are done. Remove them with a skimmer and pat dry with a paper towel. (Any water left on the gnocchi will cause a bit of sputtering during sauteeing, so use caution.)
Heat a little olive oil in a cast iron pan over medium heat. Add in the gnocchi, and allow to slightly brown on one side for 2-4 minutes. Flip over, and allow the other side to brown. Remove from the heat.
To serve, place the desired amount of browned gnocchi into bowls. Drizzle with the two sauces and garnish with the cherries. Serve immediately.
Saturday, June 8, 2013
Makes 12-14 fresh rolls
Total time: 1 hour, 25 minutes
I am dreading the arrival of July, August and September. Anything above 60 degrees is too hot, and makes me long for the cold weather that the fall and winter months bring. So when the temperature in Boston reached almost 95 degrees out of the blue in early June, I began to panic about the next
When temperatures reach the 90s, the only types of food that appeal to me are cold, clean and crisp ones, and nothing is more fresh and cooling than a spring roll packed with mint, cilantro and basil. Here I've combined those herbs with some bright mango, crispy carrots, cold glass noodles and fried soy curls to create a spring roll with complimentary textures and clean flavors. Any leftover filling components can be tossed with the cold noodles the next day and drizzled with any extra sauce* to make an easy and refreshing lunch or dinner.
for the sauce
1 cup water
1/2 cup rice vinegar
5 TB sugar
1 tsp salt
red pepper flakes, crushed peanuts, cilantro sprigs, shallot slices, to garnish
for the filling
1 cup Butler Soy Curls
1 1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 tsp salt
1 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp Ener-G, whisked with 5 TB water
canola oil, for frying
1 mango, cut into thin strips
2 large carrots, peeled and shredded
1 cup fresh mint
1 cup fresh basil
1 cup fresh cilantro
1 small shallot, sliced thinly (optional)
2 cups cooked glass noodles, or any thin asian noodle
12-14 spring roll wrappers
fresh lime, to garnish
First, make your sauce by bringing the water to a boil in a small saucepan. Then add in the rest of the sauce ingredients and stir until the sugar and salt has dissolved. Set aside to cool.
Next, prepare your soy curls by placing them into a small saucepan with the broth and salt. Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat and allow the soy curls to rehydrate for 10-15 minutes.
Drain the soy curls in a fine mesh sieve, and allow them to cool a bit. Then press down on them in the sieve to remove some of the moisture. Set aside.
If you don't want to deep-fry the soy curls, just place them into a hot skillet with a little oil, seasoning with a little salt as needed until they are slightly browned. Set aside and allow to cool.
If you want to deep-fry the soy curls, place a few inches of oil into a small saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat for about seven minutes. While you are waiting for your oil to heat, place the cornstarch into a shallow, wide bowl. Whisk the Ener-G and water in a separate shallow, wide bowl. Test your oil by throwing a pinch of cornstarch into the oil. if it sizzle immediately, you are ready to fry.
Place about a third of the soy curls into the Ener-G mixture. Give them a little squeeze to remove some of the moisture, then coat them in the cornstarch. Drop them into the hot oil and allow to fry for 3-4 minutes. Remove them with a skimmer and place on paper towels to drain. Season immediately with a little salt. Repeat the process until all of the soy curls are fried. Set aside and allow to cool slightly.
Next, prepare your noodles according to package instructions. If you are using glass noodles, just measure out about 2 cups of them once cooked. I stretch them into a long shape on a cutting board, then cut the amount I want with scissors as I go along.
Now you are ready to assemble your spring rolls. There are several ways to roll them—I used this method (steps 4-8) for this recipe.
Soften your spring rolls (only one at a time) by placing them on the palms of your hands and running them under some warm water for about 5 seconds. Then, place on a cutting board to roll them.
Place some noodles (about the size of your index finger) at 9 o'clock on the softened spring roll. Then place a couple of mango slices on one side and shredded carrots and shallot slices on the other. Then place a few soy curls on top of the noodles, then top with a few cilantro sprigs and basil and mint leaves. Roll them up and repeat until all of the rolls are assembled.
Chill or serve immediately with the cooled vinegar sauce.
Sunday, June 2, 2013
If you've never tried making raw desserts because you thought it may be too complicated, required special equipment or called for ingredients you could never possibly find, then Practically Raw Desserts: Flexible Recipes for All-Natural Sweets and Treats by Chef Amber Shea Crawley will change your mind. Packed with easy, innovative and approachable recipes, Practically Raw Desserts utilizes completely nutritious and wholesome vegan ingredients to create both familiar and one-of-a-kind desserts, like Carrot Cake, Mango-Pistachio Kulfi Pops, New York Cheesecake, Devil's Food Cupcakes, Baklava Brownies and Russian Tea Cakes. If you can't find every ingredient for a particular recipe, there are plenty of substitutions and variations offered to produce similar results (with the exception of coconut flour, which there is really no substitution for). I found coconut flour in the bulk bin at a health food store in Cambridge, but you can also buy it online. I love that Chef Amber took the time and care to ensure her recipes could be made by anyone, with almost any kind of pantry ingredients.
When I received my copy of Practically Raw Desserts from Vegan Heritage Press to review on the blog, I was pleasantly overwhelmed with the array of diverse choices, and loved that there were full-color photographs to accompany the majority of the recipes inside. Although everything looked fantastic, I was instantly drawn to Chef Amber's Salted Tahini Caramels, and it turned out to be a fantastic way to start using the cookbook.
These rich and slightly salted caramels are binded together with coconut flour, sweetened with a hint of raw agave, then placed in the freezer to create an adorable two-bite dessert. These can then be placed into mini muffin cups or cut into cubes once firm, and pulled out of the freezer here and there for a cold, rich and not-too-sweet mini treat. Because I adore this simple yet flavorful use of tahini, I'm excited that Vegan Heritage Press has kindly allowed me to post Chef Amber's recipe below. If you love tahini and lean towards a more savory and light type of dessert, then this is the perfect recipe to try out—but if you like sweet, chocolate or fruity then Practically Raw Desserts offers all of that and more.
Salted Tahini Caramels
There are two types of people in this world: those that adore tahini enough to eat it straight out of the jar, and those that do not. I am of the former persuasion. If you are too, you’ll love these tahini-rific little freezer caramels. Have all the ingredients ready to go at room temperature to make for easy mixing.
• 1/2 cup tahini
• 1/4 cup coconut flour
• 1/4 cup coconut nectar*
• 1/8 teaspoon coarse sea salt
*(or agave nectar, maple syrup or any other liquid sweetener)
Combine the tahini, coconut flour, and coconut nectar in a medium bowl and stir until very well-mixed (the mixture will be thick). Pour into a small glass container (lined with plastic wrap or waxed paper for easy removal, if desired) or divide between mini muffin cups. Sprinkle evenly with the sea salt and freeze until very firm. Once frozen, slice into bite-sized pieces with a very sharp knife. Enjoy straight out of the freezer.
Store the caramels in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Yield: 16 small caramels
From Practically Raw Desserts by Amber Shea Crawley. ©2013 Amber Shea Crawley. Used by permission from Vegan Heritage Press.