Friday, November 11, 2011

Tzatziki Sauce and Baked Falafel

Baked falafel, tzatziki sauce, green hummus and veggies

Who doesn’t love falafel with all the fixin’s (for me this includes hummus or tahini sauce, fresh cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion, and most importantly tzatziki sauce!)?  But – I realize this confession is probably outing me as a serious buzz kill – I’m not in love with fried food.  On a VERY rare occasion, I’m cool with it.  However, it usually kinda grosses me out.  But falafel is way too good to eat only on rare occasion, so when I picked up Appetite ForReduction by vegan genius Isa Chandra Moskowitz and discovered there was a baked falafel recipe, I was one happy girl.  These falafels are full of flavor and jam-packed with chickpea goodness.  And at only 45 calories a falafel, you can really chow down (I recommend making a double batch).  You can find the falafel recipe here.

On to the tzatziki sauce…  For me, a meal with falafel just isn’t complete without the tzatziki.  The creamy, tangy base along with the flavor of dill and jam-packed with cool, shredded cucumber?  Sign me up!  I also love use tzatziki sauce as dressing atop a mixed green salad with all the usual Mediterranean suspects – cucumber, tomato, red onion, kalamata olives, maybe some green bell pepper, and chickpeas or cubed tofu.

This recipe goes crazy fast if you have a food processor with a shredding attachment, but even if you don’t it shouldn’t take longer than 10 minutes to prepare.  Enjoy!

Tzatziki Sauce
2 cups plain soy yogurt
1 large cucumber peeled, seeded, and shredded
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 – 1 1/2 lemons, plus more to taste)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley (not packed)
1 medium garlic clove grated on a microplane grater or finely minced
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon Hungarian paprika
pinch cayenne pepper
2 1/2 to 3 teaspoons dried dill (or 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons fresh dill)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine.  Taste for seasonings and adjust if necessary.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

King Oyster Mushroom Scallops with White Wine, Lemon and Garlic Pasta

If you’ve never used king oyster mushrooms to replicate the texture and flavor of scallops, you are in for a treat!  The texture is chewy, yet tender at the same time.  They have a very mild flavor, and a pleasant, meaty bite that makes you completely forget that you are eating a mushroom.  And best yet, they are ridiculously easy to prepare.  

I love to serve these with thin spaghetti dressed with a light white wine, lemon and garlic sauce because for me these are familiar flavor accompaniments to traditional “scallops”.  But they’d also be great served with grits or on their own with a little garlic butter sauce (of course using a vegan margarine such as Earth Balance) as an appetizer.

King Oyster Mushrooms

If you can find them, I definitely recommend using the optional enoki mushrooms in the pasta sauce.  They'll sort of melt down and you won't notice them at all in the finished pasta, but they add richness and a mild mushroom backdrop to the sauce that really gives it that extra somethin’ somethin’.  As a last word of advice, definitely read the ingredient list and instructions all the way through before you start so you’re familiar with all the steps.  This will ensure that everything comes together perfectly.

King Oyster Mushroom Scallops with White Wine, Lemon and Garlic Pasta
For the Scallops:
5-6 king oyster mushrooms, sliced into approximately 1/2 inch disks
1 tablespoon non-hydrogenated margarine such as Earth Balance
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

For the pasta:
12 ounces thin spaghetti
12 ounces fresh spinach leaves
8 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup diced shallot
1 cup dry white wine
3-5 ounces enoki mushrooms (optional)
1 teaspoon plus a few pinches sea salt
freshly grated black pepper, a few turns plus more to taste
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flake
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
2 cups loosely packed flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped

This recipe has a few components, but as long as you follow the instructions everything should come together pretty easily.  Before beginning, be sure to chop all of your veggies and have all of your ingredients out and ready to go.

First, put your pot of water for the pasta on the stove to boil.  Next, preheat a large skillet (the largest one you’ve got) on medium-high for a minute or two.  Add the margarine and olive oil and lower the heat to medium.  Cook the king oyster mushrooms on each side until they are browned (about 3 minutes per side), turning the heat up a bit if necessary.  The goal is to quickly brown the mushrooms on each side without over cooking them to keep your “scallops” tender.  When the mushrooms are on their last minute of cooking, season with a pinch of sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and the lemon juice.  Transfer to a plate and loosely cover with foil to keep warm.

At this point, your pasta water should be boiling.  Cook spaghetti according to package directions.  While the pasta is cooking, heat the same skillet used for the mushrooms to medium and add the 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Add the shallot, a pinch of sea salt and black pepper and sauté for 1-2 minutes.  Add the minced garlic and sauté for 1 minute more (adding additional olive oil if needed to prevent sticking).  Add the enoki mushrooms, if using, and stir briefly.  Add the white wine and increase the heat to medium-high.  Cook until the wine has reduced by a little more than half (about 5-7 minutes).

By this time, your spaghetti will probably be done.  Strain and shake to remove excess water.  Turn the heat on the sauce down to low.  Next, alternate adding batches of pasta, spinach and slowly drizzling in a bit of the 1/3 cup olive oil (tossing with tongs every few additions to coat).  Once all the pasta, spinach, and olive oil have been mixed with the sauce, add the remaining lemon juice, salt, pepper, red pepper flake, and chopped parsley.  Toss again with tongs.  Taste to confirm seasonings are to your liking.  Serve the scallops with a generous serving of pasta.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Liebster Award

Kate Allan at The Spade and Spoon nominated me for a Liebster Award (German for favorite, beloved, or dearest)!  Thank you, Kate.  From what I gather, the award is meant to recognize and promote lesser known blogs.  Yay!  I’m definitely feeling the vegan love.  I’m showing my thanks by linking to 5 blogs that I would like to nominate in turn.  Check ‘em out, and spread the love.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Raw (or not) Beet Burgers

These burgers are so good.  So good.  They have an incredible depth of flavor, perfect burger texture, and these suckers are super healthy without tasty at all "health foodie".  The sweet, earthy flavor of the beets goes perfectly with the smoky spices, and the miso contributes a rich, slightly salty flavor.

Although you could certainly just form the patties and eat as is, I prefer to dehydrate them for 4-6 hours to firm them up a bit.  No dehydrator?  No problem!  These burgers also do really well with a quick go in a non-stick skillet (I’d say a few minutes on each side in a pan preheated to medium-high, then turned down to just above medium before adding the burgers).  Just be sure to give the pan a spritz of non-stick cooking spray to prevent sticking as beets are high in natural sugar.  Serve on a bun with your favorite burger fixin’s or in a lettuce wrap (my favorite!).

I definitely recommend using the shredding attachment of the food processor to shred the beets.  It’ll go super fast and prevent a HUGE mess (beets stain!).

Raw Beet Burgers
Yield: 4 large burgers
1 cup cashews (soaked at least 2 hours and up to overnight), see note
1 medium clove of garlic
1 cup shredded red beet, packed (about 2-3 beets depending on the size)
1/4 cup finely minced celery
2 tablespoons finely minced shallot
1/4 cup ground sunflower seeds (ground flaxseeds work too)
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon white or light miso
1 teaspoon granulated onion
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried chive
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)
several turns freshly ground black pepper

Shred the beets and transfer to a large bowl.  Add the garlic to the food processor and pulse to chop.  Strain and rinse the cashews.  Place in the food processor with the garlic and pulse until a coarse meal is formed, scraping down the sides as necessary.  Add to the beets.  Add all remaining ingredients into the bowl and combine by mashing with a fork (this help the beets release some of their juices, and is crucial to getting the perfect burger consistency).  

Form into 4 patties.  Eat as is, dehydrate, or cook ‘em up in a non-stick skillet. 

Note:  If you don’t have time to soak the cashews for 2 hours, just soak them during the time it takes you to wash, peel, and shred the beets.  The burgers will still turn out delicious.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Baked Donuts

I made donuts.  ‘Nuff said.

Kidding.  But there really is a certain sense of satisfaction that comes with making your own donuts.  I found donut pans in pristine condition for $2 a piece at the thrift store several months back.  Knowing how much my husband loves donuts (he has a motto: there is always room for a donut) and since they were super cheap, I scooped them up. 

I’d been eyeing the recipe on Vegan Yum Yum’s website for a while, but just hadn’t really gotten around to it.  This may be due in part to the fact that - confession time - I do not love donuts.  I mean, if there’s a vegan donut in front of me I’ll eat it (or, more accurately, part of it), but I’d never choose to eat a donut over something else sweet. 

But let me tell you, Lolo at Vegan Yum Yum knows her donuts (check out the original recipe on her blog; she even has a video demonstrating the ideal dough consistency).  I must admit, I loved them!  They may just turn me into an official donut fan.  These donuts are baked not fried, yet the texture is surprisingly light – not cakey at all like I expected.  The household donut connoisseur said the texture is similar to and old fashioned donut and proceeded to eat 5 in one sitting.

I followed her recipe for the glaze, but reduced the non-dairy milk by about 1/2 a teaspoon and used a scant 1/2 teaspoon maple extract instead.  I also used the left over cream cheese frosting from my carrot cake for half of them – yum!  So find yourself a donut pan, and go forth and make donuts!

Baked Donuts
Makes 8 regular-sized donuts
Dry Ingredients:
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon (scant) nutmeg
1 tiny pinch cinnamon

Wet Ingredients:
1/2 cup non-dairy milk
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
egg replacer (Ener-G brand) for 1 egg
4 tablespoons non-hydrogenated margarine such as Earth Balance

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients and set aside.

Add the wet ingredients to a small saucepan over low heat and mix until the margarine is melted.  The mixture should NOT get too hot.  You should be able to stick your finger in the mixture (it should just be slightly warm).  Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until just combined.

Scoop the dough into a lightly greased doughnut pan (I found it necessary to lightly grease despite having a nonstick pan).  Make sure the dough sits just below the rim.  If you over fill, the donuts will come out looking like they have a muffin top.

Bake for 16 minutes, and allow to cool for a few minutes before removing.  Allow the donuts to cool completely before frosting and decorating.

1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons non-dairy milk
1/2 teaspoon (scant) maple extract

Whisk glaze ingredients together.  Dip the “bottom” half of the donut (the side with the nicer shape) into the glaze, let some drip off, then dip glaze-side down into sprinkles.  Transfer to a wire rack that has been set on top of some parchment paper.  The excess glaze will drip through the rack onto the paper for easy cleaning later.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Raw Wilted Kale Salad with a Creamy Chipotle Dressing

Over the last 6 months or so, I’ve really been trying to incorporate more raw foods into my diet.  In my quest to find satisfying, delicious, and easy to prepare raw recipes I came across Russell James’, otherwise known as The Raw Chef, website and became a fast fan.  He offers great tutorial videos and tons of raw recipes that are easy for a raw novice to follow.  You can find the original recipe here.

This kale salad is one of my favorites, or more accurately IS my favorite.  I’ve made it several times, and love it more each time I make it.  I love love love kale, but I think this would be a great recipe for those who don’t love it but are looking for ways to get this nutrition power-house into their diet (and raw kale as an added bonus!).  It really is best to eat it the same day you make it, but I’ve had no problems eating day-old leftovers (especially tucked inside a wrap).  I’ve added my substitutions/additions in italics, but the original is of course wonderful as is.  As an added bonus, this recipe is super quick and easy to make. 

So give this recipe a try and get some kale in ya – you know you want to.  I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Wilted Kale Salad with a Creamy Chipotle Dressing
Serves 2-4
For the wilted kale:
2 heads kale (this will seem like a lot, but will wilt down considerably when the salt is added)
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 cup baby tomatoes, sliced
*1 cup black olives, sliced
1/2 cup hulled hemp seeds

For the dressing:
2 avocados
*I typically use 1 cup of tahini in place of the avocados
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (see note for a truly raw substation)
*I use 2 chipotle peppers because I like extra spiciness!
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon agave
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Adobo sauce/filtered water as needed to blend

Note:  If not using chipotle peppers, substitute with 1/2 teaspoon each of onion powder, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, and tamari/nama shoyu.

Remove the stems and then wash and cut the kale into small pieces.  Place into a bowl, add salt, and start to massage the kale until it wilts and takes on a “cooked” texture.  Add the tomatoes and hemp seeds (and olives, if using) to the bowl and mix in by hand.  Blend all remaining ingredients in a high-speed blender until creamy and mix into kale by hand.  Serve immediately.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Cream Cheeze Frosting and Carrot Cake Work in Progress

I was running some errands last Saturday and stopped by Loving Hut for a snack while out and about.  It must have been my lucky day because the owner was kind enough to give me a complimentary piece of carrot cake to go with my order – uh, hellz yah!  The problem was that as soon as I had devoured said carrot cake (hey, I did share with my hubby), I just wanted more carrot cake…generously covered in cream cheeze frosting. 

So, naturally I felt that I had no other choice but to devote Sunday to procuring the ingredients needed, shredding carrots, baking cake, making frosting, and decorating my very own cake.  Although the cake itself was pretty yummy (I added raisins, chopped walnuts, shredded coconut, and crushed pineapple), the recipe needs a little tweaking.  It was a little too moist and a bit challenging to work with.  I also think the sugar needs some adjusting.  The recipe make enough cake for a 3-layer 9inch cake.  I opted to do a 2-layer cake and make cupcakes with the left over batter.  Next time I make the cake, I think I’ll have a good recipe down that I can share.

That said, the cream cheeze frosting turned out wonderfully:  a little tangy, cheezy, and of course a tasty way to satisfy a sweet tooth.  It’s super easy to make and is perfect for cake, cookies, brownies, cinnamon rolls…really any baked good that’s screaming for a generous slathering of cream cheeze frosting.  Enjoy!

Cream Cheeze Frosting
8 oz container non-dairy cream cheeze, cold (Tofutti is a great brand that also makes a hydrogenated oil-free version)
2 tablespoons non-hydrogenated margarine, such as Earth Balance at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted

Using a hand-held or stand mixer, cream together the cream cheeze and margarine.  Add the vanilla extract and lemon juice and mix to incorporate.  Sift in the powdered sugar in 2 to 3 batches, mixing well between each addition.  Refrigerate the frosting for 1 hour before using.