Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Beef-Less Bourguignon

Here's is my take on a classic Julia Child recipe. Beef Bourguignon redone using Gardein's Beef-Less Tips and Lightlife's Smart Bacon. This is something that I totally thought I would never be able to veganise so well. I am absolutely loving Gardein's new Beef-Less Tips. It was my second time cooking with them and they really do make dishes like this possible again. Serve this dish alone or with a side of pasta noodles or rice.

Serves 4

* 2 Tb extra virgin olive oil
* 5 ounces vegan bacon
* 1 package of Gardein Beefless Tips
* 5 carrots, sliced diagonally into 1 inch chunks
* 1 yellow onion, sliced
* 2 garlic cloves, minced
* salt and pepper
* 1 Tb all-purpose flour
* 1/2 cups red wine
* 1 cup "beef" stock, such as Better than Bouillon
* 1 Tb tomato paste
* 18 small white pearl onions
* 4 Tb vegan margarine, try Earth Balance
* 1 tsp fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried thyme
* 1 bay leaf
* 2 cups button mushrooms, quartered

1. In a large pot, saute the "bacon" in 1 Tb extra virgin olive oil for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from pan and set aside.

2. Add another 1 Tb of olive oil to the pan and the "beef" and cook 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove and set aside.

3. Add the carrots and onions to the pan, add 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.

4. Return the "bacon" and "beef" back to the pot. Add the red wine and enough "beef" broth.

5. Add the tomato paste, thyme and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer, cover and simmer on low heat for 30 minutes.

6. Combine 2 Tb of margarine and the flour and stir into the stew and add the pearl onions.

7. Saute the mushrooms in 2 tablespoons of margarine for 10 minutes or until lightly browned and then add to the stew.

8. Bring the stew to a boil and the lower the heat and allow to simmer for 15 minutes. Remove bay leaf and season to taste.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Banana Nut Chocolate Chip Muffins

My favorite type of muffins have always been chocolate chip. I thought I'd make a batch but chocolate chip alone sounded a little boring. So I decided to spice these muffins up with some bananas and walnuts. The result was something that tasted very similar to banana nut bread but had a slightly sweeter taste because of the chocolate chips.

So now that you know my favorite muffin, whats yours? Blueberry? Poppy Seed? Something else? Please share, I'm curious in knowing : ]

Printer Friendly Recipe Here

Makes about 10 muffins

* 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
* 3/4 cup unprocessed sugar
* 1 tsp baking powder
* 1 tsp baking soda
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 1/2 cup canola oil
* 1/2 cup vegan plain yogurt or vanilla yogurt
* 1 tsp vanilla extract ( if using plain yogurt or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract if using vanilla yogurt )
* 1 cup mashed ripe bananas
* 3/4 cup semi-sweet vegan chocolate chips
* 1/2 chopped walnuts

1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

2. In another bowl, combine the canola oil, yogurt and vanilla extract.

3. Stir into dry ingredients, just until moistened.

4. Fold in bananas, chocolate chips and walnuts.

5. Fill greased or paper lined muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake at 350 F for 23 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

6. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans to cool completely on a wire rack.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Chik'n and Dumplings

This was my third time making gnocchi and I swear it only gets easier each time. This is a classic comfort food recipe but it has a slight twist. The twist being that gnocchi is used instead of plain ol' dumplings. This meal is served over a homemade basil pesto that is filled with mushrooms, carrots and celery. Definitely better than any chik'n and dumplings I've had in the past. Did I mention that the gnocchi is also lightly tossed in lemon butter? Yeah, this is a must try for anyone that loves Italian food.

Serves 4

* 5 Tb extra virgin olive oil, divided
* 1 package of Morningstar Chik'n Strips
* 4 Tb vegan margarine, divided
* 10-12 large button mushrooms, sliced
* 1 cup shredded carrot, about 2 carrots
* 4 ribs celery, thinly sliced
* salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 3 Tb all-purpose flour
* 3 cups vegan "chicken" stock ( try Better than Bouillon ) or vegetable stock
* 1 cup basil leaves, chiffonade
* 1 clove garlic, minced
* 1 handful parsley leaves, chopped
* 1/4 cup vegan Parmesan
* 1 lemon, zested

* 3 medium sized russet potatoes
* 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1. Preheat your oven to 425 F. Pierce the potatoes several times with a fork than wrap in foil and bake for 60 minutes or until soft.

While the potatoes cook, start making your sauce

2. Heat a pot with 1 Tb extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the chick'n and saute for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once done, remove from pan and set aside in a small bowl.

3. Add another tablespoon of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of margarine to the same pan and heat. Add mushrooms, carrots, celery and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Sprinkle in the flour, stir to coat all the vegetables and cook for another 2 minutes.

5. While this cooks, your chick'n should have cooled down by down. Roughly chop the strips into bite sized pieces.

6. Whisk in 2 1/2 cups of the stock, slide the chick'n back into the pot and simmer to allow the sauce to thicken.

7. Place the remaining 1/2 cup of stock in a food processor, along with the basil, parsley, garlic, Parmesan, salt and pepper. Turn processor on and drizzle in two tablespoons of olive oil.

8. By now your potatoes should be done baking. Cover and place the pot of sauce on low heat and keep aside.

9. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.

10. Remove the foil from the potatoes and start peeling away the skin. Do not allow them to cool, you must work with them hot. I suggest using a towel to protect your hands from burning. Using a knife, such as a paring knife, worked best to help me peel away the skin.

11. Place the potatoes in a ricer or food mill and mash. If you do not have one, a fork will work just as well. Spread them out onto a cutting board and allow them to cool for 2 to 5 minutes.

12. Gather the potatoes and sprinkle half a cup of flour over them. Mix by hand until the dough is smooth. Add more flour if the dough feels too sticky.

13. Divide the dough into about 5 pieces. Grab each piece and roll them out into 1/2 inch thick log shapes.

14. Cut the logs into 1 inch pieces and dust with flour. To shape the gnocchi, roll each pillow on the tines of a fork or a gnocchi board. Place all the shaped gnocchi on a lightly floured plate.

15. By now your water should be boiling. Add the gnocchi, a couple at a time, and cook for a minute or two, until they float to the surface. Allow them to stay in 30 seconds longer and then remove using a slotted spoon. Drain well.

16. Melt 2 tablespoons of margarine in a skillet over medium heat with the lemon zest. Toss the gnocchi in the lemon butter and cook until golden brown on edges, about 3 minutes.

17. Turn off heat on the chick'n and stir in the pesto sauce.

Serve the chick'n in shallow bowls and top with gnocchi.

On a side note, I've been playing around with a new Mamiya Polaroid camera and of course the star of the show is my Taffy. Here's a recent one of him...I love how Polaroids make every picture look so vintage.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Tofu "Crab" Cakes with Lemon Aioli Sauce

This recipe comes from Tal Ronnen's "The Conscious Cook" cookbook. I've been eying this recipe for a little over a year now but never really felt motivated to make it. Wow have I've been missing out! These cakes taste exactly like crab! I was blown away at how similar it mimicked it's taste. I've tried making vegan crab cakes before, by adding kelp powder to tofu but the toasted nori really did do the trick.

I skipped out on the horseradish sauce that the book suggests you make and I substituted it with a fresh lemon aioli sauce. If you would like to keep it simple, traditional tarter sauce would also go well with this. I love this recipe, of course remember to use vegan mayo instead.

If anyone used to be a huge seafood fan, as I used to be, I highly suggest you give this recipe a try!

Lemon Aioli Sauce
* 1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise
* 1 clove garlic, minced
* 1 Tb chives, minced
* 3 Tb lemon juice
* 1/2 tsp lemon zest
* salt and freshly ground black pepper

Tofu Cakes
* 2 Tb canola oil
* 1/2 cup finely diced onion
* 1/2 cup finely diced carrot
* 2 tsp minced garlic
* 1 sheet nori seaweed
* 2 lbs firm tofu, pressed and drained
* 2 1/2 Tb cornstarch
* 1 Tb Old Bay seasoning
* 1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
* 1/2 tsp white pepper
* Juice of 1 lime

Apples and Beets
* 1 beet, washed
* 2 Tb balsamic vinegar
* 1 Fuji apple
* 1 Tb extra virgin olive oil
* sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pan Roasted Summer Vegetables
* 2 Tb extra virgin olive oil
* 1 shallot, minced
* 2 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels ( or frozen, defrosted )
* 1 cup fresh or thawed frozen peas
* 1 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
* 3 large basil leaves, cut into chiffonade
* Freshly ground black pepper

To cook
* 1 cup panko bread crumbs
* 1 1/2 Tb Old Bay seasoning
* sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 1 cup plain unsweetened soy milk
* 1/2 cup canola oil, or more if needed

1. To make the lemon aioli sauce, mix all the ingredients together in a medium bowl.

2. To make the tofu cakes : Place a small saute pan over medium heat. Add the oil and heat for 30 seconds. Add the onion and carrots and saute until soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute. Set aside to cool completely.

3. Holding the nori sheet with tongs, toast it by fanning it over a low gas flame or electric burner, being careful not to burn it and turning it so that all of it gets toasted. Grind using a spice or coffee grinder. Alternatively, crumble it as finely as you can with your hands.]

4. Place the onion mixture, nori powder, 1 Tb salt, and the remaining tofu cake ingredients in a food processor and pulse until well combined but still chunky. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

5. Make the apples and beets : Place the beet in a small saucepan. Fill with water to cover and add the vinegar. Bring to a boil and cook until you can easily insert a toothpick into the center, about 25 minutes.

6. Drain and peel the beet. Finely dice the beet and put it in a small bowl. Finely dice the apple and add it to the bowl. Add the oil and salt and pepper to taste; toss to combine. Set aside.

7. Cook the tofu cakes : In a shallow dish, stir together the bread crumbs, Old Bay, and 1 tsp each of salt and pepper. Pour the soy milk into a separate bowl.

8. Using your hands, form 12 small cakes from the tofu mixture.

9. Dip both sides of the tofu cake in the soy milk, then press into the bread crumbs, coating well. Place the cakes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until firm.

10. Place a saute pan over medium high heat. Add the oil and heat for 2 minutes. Working in batches, saute the tofu cakes ( make sure that the oil comes about halfway up the sides of the cakes ) until browned on both sides and heated through, 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Remove the cakes to a second baking sheet lined with parchment paper and place in a warm over until you finish all of the cakes.

11. To make the summer vegetables : Place a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the oil and heat for 30 seconds. Add the shallot and saute for 3 minutes.

12. Add the corn and peas and saute for 3 minutes.

13. Add the tomatoes and basil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for about 2 minutes, until just heated through. Serve hot.

14. Assemble the dish : Scoop a large spoonful of the summer vegetables onto the center of each 6 serving plates. Place two cakes, side by side, on top of the vegetables. Top the cakes with a spoonful of the apples and beets and drizzle with the lemon aioli sauce.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Lemon Cake with Fresh Strawberry Sauce

Happy Birthday to me! : D

Well actually my birthday was four days ago but I finally got around to posting this very yummy cake recipe. I am sorry I didn't take step by step pictures but I made this cake on the day of and was busy running around, trying to make sure I wasn't late for dinner.

I originally planned to serve this with some homemade whipped cream and fresh fruit but the recipe I tried to veganize did not work out as planned. Anyone have any good suggestions for a heavy cream substitute? Sadly, silken tofu did not do the trick. So as a last resort, I made a strawberry sauce, which worked out perfectly.

I'll be attempting to make a wedding cake this August, so get ready to see lots of cake recipes here as I play around with different flavors to find the perfect one : ]

Makes 2 Eight Inch Round Layer Cake
* 1 cup vegan margarine, at room temperature
* 3 cups sifted all-purpose or cake flour
* 1 Tb baking powder
* 1 tsp baking soda
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 2 cups sugar
* Egg replacer, equivalent of 4 eggs ( I used Ener-G Egg Replacer )
* 1 1/4 cup vegan buttermilk ( 1 cup soy milk + 1 tsp apple cider vinegar, mixed and set aside for 10 minutes to curdle )
* 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
* Zest of 2 lemon

Lemon Curd
* 1 cup soy milk
* 1/4 cup water
* 2 Tb cornstarch
* 3/4 cup sugar
* 3/4 cup lemon juice
* 2 tsp lemon zest
* 1/2 cup vegan margarine
* pinch of salt

Fresh Strawberry Sauce
* 16 ounces fresh strawberries
* 1/4 cup sugar
* 1/4 cup water
* 1 tsp lemon zest


First prepare the Lemon Curd
1. In a small saucepan, dissolve the cold soy milk, water and cornstarch.

2. Turn heat to medium high and continuously keep stirring the mixture. Add the butter, lemon juice and sugar and continue to stir until it is brought to a boil and starts to thicken.

3. Reduce to low heat and beat with a hand held beater for 2 minutes.

4. Transfer mixture to a small bowl and keep refrigerated until ready to use. ( Can be made 2 days in advance )

Next make the strawberry sauce

5. Combine the strawberries, sugar, water and lemon zest and cook until the berries are soft and the liquid is thick, about 10 minutes. Mash the strawberries slightly, if desired.

6. Remove from heat and transfer to a small bowl and keep refrigerated until ready to use.

Lastly make your cake

7. Preheat oven to 350 F. If not using a springform pan, butter two 8 by 2 inch round cake pans; line the bottoms with parchment paper. Dust bottoms and sides with flour; tap out excess.

8. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

9. In a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter on medium speed until softened, about 1 to 2 minutes.

10. Gradually add sugar, beating on medium speed until lightened, about 3-4 minutes; scrape down sides once or twice.

11. Drizzle in egg replacer, one at a time, beating after each addition until batter is no longer slick; stop once or twice to scrape the sides.

12. On low speed, alternatively add flour mixture and buttermilk, a little at a time, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.

13. Beat in vanilla extract and lemon zest.

14. Divide batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake 25 minutes and then rotate the pans in the oven for even browning. Continue baking until a cake tester inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean, 10 to 20 minutes more. Transfer pans to wire rack to cool, 15 minutes. Turn cakes out, set on racks, tops up, until cooled completely.

15. Remove the parchment paper from each cake. Using a serrated knife, slice each layer in half horizontally. Set aside the pretties layer for the top of the cake.

16. Place another dome layer, dome sized down, on a serving plate. Spread 1 cup lemon curd over surface and 1/2 inch away from edges. Place second cake layer, over the first, and spread another 1 cup lemon curd over top. Repeat with third cake layer and remaining cup of curd. Transfer partially assembled cake to the refrigerator.

17. Just before serving, place reserved dome on top of cake.

To Serve - Slice into 10 servings and top with strawberry sauce.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Chick'n Cacciatore

This was my first time using Gardein's Chick'n Scallopini. I've always wanted to because I heard that you can do anything to it that you would with real chicken. It was really fun to work with and flour, I can't tell you how long its been since I've done something like that. I cook mine frozen, no need to defrost here, they heat up fairly quickly in the pan.

Here is an up close picture of the packaging and its nutritional information. Click the picture for a larger image if you have trouble viewing.

I served mine over whole wheat spaghetti noodles but it would also be great served alone.

Serves 4

* 3 Tb olive oil
* 2 packets of Gardein's "Lightly Seasoned Chick'n Scallopini ( 8 cutlets )
* 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
* 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
* 1 yellow onion, chopped
* 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
* 3 garlic cloves, minced
* 3/4 dry white wine
* 1 ( 28 ounce ) can diced tomatoes with juice
* 3/4 cup vegan "chicken" broth ( try Better than Bouillon ) or vegetable broth
* 3 Tb capers
* 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
* 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil

1. Lightly sprinkle the chick’n cutlets with flour.

2. In a large heavy saute pan, heat the oil over a medium high flame. Add the chick’n pieces to the pan and saute until browned, about 2-3 minutes per side. If all of it does not fit in the pan, saute them in small batches.

3. Transfer the chick’n to a plate and set aside.

4. Add the bell pepper, onion, mushrooms, garlic to the same pan and saute over medium heat until the onion and mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. (Mushrooms not pictured because I totally forgot about them and had to add them later.)

5. Add the wine and simmer until reduce by half, about 3 minutes.

6. Add the tomatoes with their juice, broth, capers and oregano. Bring the sauce to a simmer and simmer over medium-low heat for 15 minutes.

To Serve - Place two cutlets on a plate and spoon the sauce over. Sprinkle with fresh basil. If you wish, chick’n cacciatore also goes great served over whole wheat spaghetti noodles.