Saturday, February 26, 2011

Tofu and Vegetable Dumplings

Who knew dumplings were so easy to make! I've been searching for vegan dumpling wrappers for awhile now because all the ones I've come across contained egg. I finally discovered that I can purchase ones made with whole wheat and no egg from my local Asian market.

It takes a little while to get the hang of how to properly fold a dumpling. I noticed that when I added too much water to the outside edges of the wrapper, I had trouble sealing them. But after about 20 dumplings in, I started to figure out what I was doing wrong and was able to correct it.

I made them in batches of 10...steaming 10 while folding the next batch. It took me a little over an hour to make all 40 dumplings. My family really loved them and it went well along side the hot and sour soup.

Makes about 40 Dumplings

* 1/2 pound firm tofu, pressed and drained, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
* 1/2 cup grated carrots
* 1/2 cup shredded Napa cabbage
* 2 Tb finely chopped red pepper
* 2 Tb finely chopped scallions
* 2 Tb finely minced fresh ginger
* 1 Tb chopped cilantro leaves
* 1 Tb soy sauce
* 1 Tb hoisin sauce
* 2 tsp sesame oil
* 1 tsp salt
* 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
* bowl of water, plus additional for steaming
* 35 small vegan pot sticker wrappers
* vegetable spray for steamer

1. In a large mixing bowl add the tofu, carrots, cabbage, red pepper, scallions, ginger, cilantro, soy sauce, hoisin, sesame oil, salt and pepper. Stir to combine.

To assemble the dumpling...

2. Remove one wrapper from the package, covering the others with a damp cloth. Brush the edges of the wrapper lightly with water.

3. Place 1/2 tsp of the tofu mixture in the center of the wrapper.

4. Fold over and seal, pressing down with your fingertips. You may leave it like this or you can continue to shape it. I watched this video, which really helped me learn how to properly shape them.

5. Set on a sheet pan and cover with a damp cloth. Repeat procedure until all the filling is gone.

6. Using a steaming apparatus of your choice, bring 1/2 inch of water to a simmer over medium heat. Spray the steamers surface lightly with oil to prevent sticking. Place as many dumplings as will fit in the steamer without touching each other. Cover and steam for 10 to 12 minutes over medium heat. Remove and repeat until all dumplings are cooked.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Hot and Sour Soup

This soup is fairly simple and quick to make. The only problem I encountered was trying to find the wood ear mushrooms and lily buds. My local market did not carry them but thankfully a little Asian market down the street did. I did not find any packages labeled wood ear, so its good to know that it also goes by the name black fungus.

If you cannot handle spicyness well, reduce the amount of chili paste added. I found the one tablespoon to be a little too spicy for me.

I made some dumplings to go along side this. Recipe for that coming soon : ]

Printer Friendly Recipe Here

Serves 6

* 8 dried wood ear mushrooms ( also known as black fungus )
* 7 dried shiitake mushrooms
* 14 dried tiger lily buds
* 7 cups vegan "chicken" broth ( try Better than Bouillon ) or vegetable stock
* 2 Tb canola oil
* 1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated finely
* 1 Tb red chili paste
* 1/2 cup bamboo shoots, diced
* 1/4 cup tamari
* 1/2 tsp sugar
* 1 tsp salt
* 3/4 tsp pepper
* 1/4 cup rice vinegar
* 3 Tb cornstarch
* 1/4 cup water
* 1 ( 14 ounce ) package of firm tofu, pressed and drained, cubed
* 1 1/2 tsp sesame oil
* chopped green onions and cilantro, for garnish

1. Soak the dried mushrooms and tiger lily buds in warm water for 20 minutes.

2. Trim off any tough stems and slice the mushrooms. With your fingers slice the tiger lily buds.

3. Heat oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add the ginger, chili paste, mushrooms, lily buds, bamboo shoots and tofu. Cook and stir for 1 minute.

4. In a small bowl, stir together the tamari, sugar, salt, pepper and vinegar. Pour in wok and toss well.

5. Add stock and bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.

6. Stir in the tamari, sugar, salt, pepper and vinegar.

7. Combine cornstarch with water. Add to the pot and heat until boiling. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened.

8. Turn off heat and stir in sesame oil.

To Serve - Divide into 6 soup bowls and garnish each bowl with scallions.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


I love baking my own bread and especially love the warm cozy aroma it fills my home with. Focaccia is an Italian flat bread and is usually topped with herbs or veggies. This recipes features caramelized onions, rosemary and red pepper flakes.

This can be eaten alone as an appetizer or paired with a main coarse as a side. I think I'll be making this next time I decide to serve pasta. Sorry garlic bread, you have been replaced : ]

Serves 6 to 8


* 1 Tb sugar
* 1 1/2 cups warm water
* 1 packet active dry yeast
* 6 cups all-purpose flour
* salt
* 1 /3 cup plus 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
* 1 Tb vegan margarine
* 2 yellow onions, thinly sliced
* 1 tsp dried rosemary
* 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1. In a large bowl, combine water, yeast and sugar and stir to combine. Let sit for about 15 minutes or until mixture is foamy.

2. In a separate bowl, mix the flour and 1 Tb salt. Add the flour mixture, about 1 cup at a time and the 1/3 cup oil, a spoonful or two at a time, to the yeast mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon.

3. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead for 10 minutes, or until a firm, smooth dough forms. Place the dough in a oiled bowl, turning over to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours.

4. Meanwhile, place a saute pan over medium heat. Add 1 Tb oil and the margarine and heat for 30 seconds. Add the onions and saute, stirring occasionally, until very soft and browned, 20 to 25 minutes. Set aside.

5. Line a 15 x10 inch baking sheet with parchment paper. Brush or spray the parchment paper with oil. Turn the dough out onto the parchment and pull and stretch it with your hands to fill the pan. The dough should be about 1/2 inch thick. Use your fingertips to make dimples all over the dough, about 1 inch apart. Let rise, covered, for another 20 minutes.

6. Preheat the oven to 400 F. In a small bowl, stir together the remaining 3 Tb oil, the red pepper flakes, rosemary, 2 tsp salt and the black pepper.

7. Brush the top of the dough with the oil mixture. Bake for 7 minutes, then rotate the pan front to back, spread the onions over the top, and bake for another 10 minutes, or until golden and crusty. Remove the dough to a cutting board, let cool for at least 10 minutes, then cut into squares.

* Recipe from Tal Ronnen's "The Conscious Cook." I did made a couple changes and substitutions to his original recipe.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

French Toast

French toast! Something I am sure a lot of you thought you would never have again as a vegan. The trick to this recipe was the chickpea flour, which works well as an egg substitute. If you cannot find chickpea flour, you can make it yourself but grinding up small batches of raw chickpeas in a food processor.

I topped mine with some powdered sugar, strawberries and real maple syrup. A very healthy alternative to the traditional way French toast is made.

Printer Friendly Recipe Here

* 1 cup soy milk
* 1/4 cup chickpea flour
* 1/4 tsp cinnamon
* 1/4 tsp nutmeg
* 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
* Canola oil for the pan
* 6 slices of whole wheat bread

1. In a shallow bowl, whisk together the soy milk and flour. Once the flour is well incorporated, whisk in the cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla until throughly combined. There will be a little lumps left in the batter. Don't worry about them too much, just make sure the bigger ones are dissolved.

2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan. The canola oil will be very important throughout this process. You will learn by trial and error what is too much or too little. Remember that the bread will absorb some of the oil so add a little extra in preparation for that.

3. Dredge each slice of bread in the soymilk mixture and add the hot oil. Cook the French toast until each slice is golden brown, approximate 2-3 minutes per side.

4. Top with vegan powdered sugar, strawberries and pure maple syrup if desired.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Deep Dish Pizza

Last week I was scrolling across Quarry Girl's blog and I came across her deep dish pizza post. I looked up how to make them and noticed that it isn't that different from making a regular pizza. Only a couple changes needed, such as adding semolina flour to your pizza dough and obviously changing your pan to a deep dish pizza pan.

I don't know how many of you own deep dish pans but I sadly do not. I substituted it with my 9 inch cake pan and the result came out fine. This recipe took me an hour and a half to make, which really isn't that bad, considering that the dough and sauce are all made from scratch.

Feel free to change around the toppings to any veggies of your choice. Now go ahead and impress your friends with your very own Chicago style pizza!

Printer Friendly Recipe Here

Pizza Dough
* 3/4 cup warm water ( 110 F )
* 1 ( 1/4 ounce ) package of active dry yeast
* 1/2 tsp sugar
* 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1/4 cup semolina flour
* 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
* 1/2 tsp salt

Pizza Sauce
* 1 Tb extra virgin olive oil
* 1/2 cup onion, chopped
* 1/4 cup celery, chopped
* 1 garlic clove, minced
* 1 ( 8 ounce ) can tomato sauce
* 1 ( 6 ounce ) can tomato paste
* 1 tsp dried basil
* 1 tsp dried oregano
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 1/2 tsp sugar
* 1/4 tsp black pepper
* 1 small bay leaf

* 1/2 pound vegan mozzarella cheese, shredded ( I prefer Daiya Italian cheese )
* 4 ounces mushrooms, sliced thinly
* 1/2 green bell pepper, sliced thinly
* 1/2 yellow onion, sliced thinly
* 1/2 pound spicy Italian sausage, crumbled, cooked as directed on package ( I used Field Roast Mexican Chipotle sausages )

First prepare the dough...
1. In a small bowl, combine water, yeast and sugar and stir to combine. Let sit for about 10 minutes or until the mixture is foamy.

2. In a large bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, semolina flour, oil, salt and yeast mixture. Stir well to combine.

3. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead for about 5 to 10 minutes, until a smooth dough has formed. Place in a lightly oiled bowl and turn to cover the entire dough with oil.

4. Cover with a damp towel and allow to rise in a warm area until double in size, about 45 minutes.

While the dough rises, start making your sauce...

5. In a medium sized sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion, celery and garlic and saute until soft and the onions are transparent.

6. Add tomato sauce and tomato paste and stir until smooth.

7. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a slow simmer. Simmer for 30-60 minutes. Remove bay leaf.

Preheat oven to 420 F

8. Oil a 12 inch round deep-dish pizza pan with extra virgin olive oil. Place the dough in the pan, pressing to the edge and stretching about 1 1/2 inches up the sides. Let rest for 5 minutes.

9. Layer half of the mozzarella all over the bottom of the pie.

Top with the sausages and onions

bell peppers


Ladle the sauce evenly over everything.

Sprinkle the rest of the mozzarella evenly over the top of the pie.

10. Bake until the top is golden, cheese is bubbly and the crust is golden brown, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven, slice and serve hot.

On a side note, here a recent shot of my boy..nothing like a good rub down to start off your day!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Creamy Corn Filled Empanadas

Corn filled empanadas or empanadas humitas, as they would say in Spanish are really delicious. These have a sweet but slightly spicy taste. You can adjust the amount of spicyness with how much cayenne you add.

Since it's not corn season, I used two small bags of frozen corn and it came out just as good. I was always afraid to work with frozen vegetables, feeling like they weren't fresh enough but after hearing time and time again that frozen veggies are just as good, I tried them out and must agree with what I've been told. Some people even say that frozen veggies are better than fresh because they are picked at their peek of ripeness.

I recommend making the dough the night before, since it does have to be chilled for at least 4 hours before they can be handled. I made the mistake of not reading the recipe carefully in advance and lunch was served really late because of the wait time.

I hope you guys have as much fun making them as I did : ]
Recipe from Viva Vegan
Makes about a dozen 6 inch Empanadas

Empanada Dough

* 3 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 1/2 tsp salt
* 1/4 tsp baking powder
* 6 Tb chilled nonhydrogenated vegan shortening
* 2 Tb chilled nonhydrogenated vegan margarine
* 3/4 cup cold water, or more as needed ( I used 1 cup )


* 3 Tb nonhydrogenated vegan margarine
* 3 Tb finely chopped chives, garlic scapes, or green onions
* 1 tsp dried basil
* 5 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels ( thawed and drained, if frozen; removed from 6 to 8 ears of corn if fresh )
* 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
* 1/4 cup cornstarch
* 2/3 cup soy creamer or other heavy cream substitute, or any nondairy milk
* 1 Tb lemon juice
1 tsp salt, or more to taste
* a big pinch of cayenne
* Freshly ground black pepper
* 1/3 cup soy creamer or nondairy milk for brushing

First prepare the dough...
1. In a food processor bowl, pulse together the flour, salt and baking powder for a few seconds. Slice the shortening and margarine into 1/2 inch chunks, add to the food processor and pulse until everything resembles fine, sandlike crumbs. If you prefer, you can also use a large fork or pastry cutter to blend the fats into the flour.

2. Pour the flour mixture into a large bowl and stream in the cold water while mixing the dough with your fingers. Continue adding just enough cold water that you can press the mixture together to form a soft and stretchy dough.

Briefly knead a few times, divide into two balls, flatten each into a round about an inch thick, and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Handle the dough minimally to keep it from getting tough. Chill it overnight or for at least 4 hours.

3. Tear about ten pieces of waxed paper to about 7 inches square and keep them near your workspace. Lightly dust a large, stable rolling surface and a rolling pin with all-purpose flour. Roll one of the dough rounds about 3/8 inch thick, stretching and pulling the dough a little if necessary. To keep the dough from getting tough, use long rolling motions, occasionally lifting the dough by the edges and turning it a little to ensure an even thickness throughout.

4. Using a 6 inch diameter bowl pressed into the dough as a guide, take a small, sharp paring knife and run it across the edge of the bowl to cut out circles. Or, you a huge round cookie or biscuit cutter. Stack the circles of dough on top of one another, separating them with the waxed paper pieces to keep them from sticking. Chill the dough scraps, while you roll and cut the remaining unworked dough into rounds. Gather up all the remaining dough scraps, reroll them only one more time, and cut out as many circles as possible.

5. Chill the finished dough circles, the entire stack well wrapped in plastic wrap while preparing the filling, or store in the refrigerator for up to a week. Keep the empanada dough chilled until you're ready to fill and bake them.

Now prepare your filling...

6. In a heavy bottomed pot, melt the margarine over medium heat, add the chives and dried basil, and saute for 2 minutes.

7. In a blender jar, pulse the corn kernels, garlic, cornstarch, soy creamer, lemon juice, salt, cayenne and pepper into a thick batter.

8. Pour the corn mixture into the pot containing the chive mixture and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally with a silicone spatula or a wooden spoon, until the filling thickens to the consistency of thick porridge. Remove from the heat, taste, and adjust the seasonings, if desired, with salt, ground pepper, or even a little more lemon juice.

9. When ready to assemble the empanadas, preheat the oven to 400 F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

10. Take a dough round, gentle stretch it slightly outward by its edges, and brush lightly with soy creamer.

11. Scoop a generous 1/3 cup of corn filling into the center of the round and spread it over half of the round; leave about 1/2 inch of space along the edge of the dough.

12. Fold the unfilled dough over the filling, stretching and pulling it just enough to completely encase everything. ( You will have a semicircle patty. ) With your fingers, firmly press down the edges of the dough, then seal by firmly pressing the tines of a fork into the edges of the empanada.

13. Carefully lift and place the empanada on a prepared baking sheet, and brush with more soy creamer. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling, dividing the filling equally among the dough rounds.

14. Bake the empanadas for 24 to 26 minutes, or until their crust is golden and their edges begin to brown. A little of the filling may bubble out of the edges, but once you get the hang of crimping the edges it won't happen very often. Allow the empanadas to cool for about 5 minutes before serving, as the filling will be extremely hot right out of the oven.

To reheat, either wrap in foil and bake at 350 F for 8 to 10 minutes, or microwave on high for 30 to 35 seconds. Store leftovers chilled in a tightly covered container.