February 12, 2012

Vegan Pizza with Sunflower Seed Crust

These little goodies were a delightful treat for dinner last night.  There are two more crusts left, I think I'll make two more and use the rest of the sauce in some whole grain pasta with some greens for dinner tonight.

This is an easy crust that can be made in the oven or a dehydrator.  Making the marinara sauce and crusts on the weekend and storing for up to a week in an airtight container, makes for a quick, nutritious, and tasty meal during the week.  Just pour on some sauce, a couple slices of zucchini or whatever veggie that happens to be around and bake for 10 minutes.  You can use raw sunflower seeds or soaked and dried sunflower seeds.  I buy my seeds and nuts in large quantities, soak them, and dehydrate them so they're handy.

Sunflower Seed Pizza ~ Vegan & Gluten Free
This is my version of a recipe from Deliciously Organic.

Makes about 6 – 6″ pizzas

For the crust:
1 1/2 cups sunflower seeds (I used soaked and dehydrated seeds, but raw or toasted seeds will also work well)
2 roasted red, orange or yellow bell peppers
1/2 teaspoon dried basil and oregano
1/2 teaspoon Celtic sea salt

For the Marinara:
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (24-ounce) jar crushed tomatoes (I used home canned organic tomatoes)
1/2 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
1/2 teaspoon dried basil, rosemary, and oregano

Any other toppings of your choice: mushrooms, tempeh, basil, greens, etc.

Preheat oven to 300ºF, adjust rack to middle position, and place a pizza stone or pizza baking sheet in the oven (the stone/pan needs to preheat along with the oven). Place sunflower seeds in the bowl of a food processor. Process until finely ground. Add bell peppers, Italian seasoning, sea salt and cheese.

Process until smooth.
Place a small sheet of parchment paper on the counter. Place a 1/4 cup scoop of dough on the parchment. Spread dough into a 6″ round. Bake on the preheated pizza stone for 20 minutes.  I used the dehydrator at 115º flipping after about three hours.  They were ready to use in about two to three more hours, crisp, but still a bit pliable.  They are going to bake in the oven for another ten minutes, so not quite crispy is desirable. I don't know, is there an 'al dente' for seeds and nuts?

Meanwhile add the marinara ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.

Remove crust from the oven. Top with 2 tablespoons marinara and sprinkle with a few tablespoons of toppings of your choice. Bake for 10 minutes. Serve.

I used simple toppings, thinly sliced yellow zucchini, some of the roasted peppers I used for the sauce, and Daiya vegan cheddar and mozzarella style cheese.

I can't believe it's Tofu ~ Tofu Quiché

I made some awesome tofu quiché in muffin cups yesterday.  I created a variation of my friend Felicia's recipe.  She brought some to the last potluck and I always have some tofu and fresh veggies around. Thought I'd give it a try this weekend. This is an easy meal and can be made with just about any vegetables.  She did find out while creating her recipe that the vegetables that contain the most moisture, like zucchini, should be dried a little or sauteéd first. I sliced a yellow zucchini very thin and weighted the slices between paper towels for about 30 minutes.  I had some fresh asparagus spears and just chopped them in about 1/2 inch sections. I also chopped some green onions to add to the vegetable mixture.  I didn't use mushrooms this time, but that's OK, my honey doesn't care for them much.  I also didn't have soft tofu, but I did have some vegan cream cheese in the fridge, which is made with tofu.  It worked great.  The little quiches came out firm, but fluffy. For my gluten intolerant friends, it's not only vegan, it's also gluten free.

Tofu Quiché
      by Felicia Divina

2 tsp minced garlic
1 c chopped vegetables, spinach works best for me but anything low moisture, if you use zucchini saute first to get moisture out or dry it with paper towels. (I used asparagus, green onions, & sliced yellow zucchini.)
1 1/2 c chopped mushroom, sauteed (add the rosemary here if you are using dried)
tsp chives
tsp rosemary
1 box firm tofu
1/2 c soft tofu
3 or 4 TB nutritional yeast
2 TB cornstarch  (I omitted the cornstarch)
2 tsp tahini (heaping, I love the stuff)
1 tsp tamari (Tamari is my addition to her recipe)
pinch freshly ground black pepper
pinch turmeric (I used big pinch turmeric, about a teaspoon)

I also added a sprinkle of cayenne to the top of each and a little Daiya cheddar and mozzarella style vegan cheese.

Spray muffin tin, spoon veggies into tins

Blend everything but the veggies in food processor or blender until smooth.

Pour over the veggies. Bake at 350º for about 25 to 30 minutes, they will be firm and golden brown.

February 11, 2012

Vegan Strawberry Cake with Buttercream Frosting

This is my second attempt at this recipe.  The first time I tried it with gluten free ingredients.  They rose very nicely and tasted great.  But, the gluten free cooking takes some practice.  Even though they rose like cake should, they didn't level off and were very unusual looking. I'll keep trying though.

This recipe made with the wheat flour worked very well.  My friend Bill told me he'd be interested in a vegan cake when I could get it "Betty Crocker" moist and fluffy.  Well, I think I've finally managed it.  The Coconut Cupcakes had a wonderful texture. I think they got better after chilling overnight. 

This is another recipe from Vegan Thyme.  I really like visiting this blog, she has some great cake recipes.  While writing this and looking up her link, I noticed a great buttery cake with chocolate frosting I think I'm going to have to try this weekend. I didn't change much in her recipe.  I didn't have vegan sour cream, but made my own with the coconut creme and lemon juice.  I used coconut sugar and my egg replacer comes in bulk at People's Coop, so I am not sure if it's the same.  I really like it though, it whips up frothy like egg whites.  I have two more bags of frozen strawberries left from last season. They're from Crawford's Strawberries 'n Cream Farm, so this is truly Strawberries & Cream cake. I baked my little cakes in heavy pans similar to bundt pans so the outside was kind of crispy and the center moist.  Donna said they'd pass as a 'fried' doughnut from a shop.

Vegan Strawberry Cake

2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup vegetable margerine
1 1/3 cup Florida Crystals or other "healthy" sugar
3 teaspoons Ener-G Egg Replacer mixed with 4 tablespoons warm water (equiv. of 2 eggs)
4 oz. of vegan sour cream
1 1/2 cup puree of fresh strawberries (a pint and a half should do it)
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350º. 

Lightly spray two-8" round cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper. Slice your strawberries up and place in a bowl and sprinkle with sugar (this helps them soften up a bit.) Set aside. 

Prep your Ener-G egg replacer and set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, cream the margarine with the sugar and set aside. Add the egg replacer to this and mix well. 

In another bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon. 

Puree your strawberries so that they mixture is pretty smooth--pour them into a small bowl. You'll still have a few chunks, that's okay. Whisk your strawberry mixture with the sour cream and vanilla. 

Next, in alternating additions, add about a third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, mix well. Next add a third of the berry mixture, mix well. Repeat this--ending with the flour mixture. Be sure to just hand mix after the final addition of the flour--this will help create less gluten formation. 

Pour into prepared pans and bake for about 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Allow to cool completely before frosting.

Vegan Pink Buttercream Frosting

4 tablespoons vegetable margarine or Earth Balance butter
4 tablespoons vegetable shortening
2 cups powdered sugar (or more depending on thickness you want) 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
1 drop red food coloring (or any amount you want depending upon your "pink" craving)

In a large bowl cream the margarine and shortening with about a 1/2 cup of the powdered sugar. Then add the extracts. Continue mixing with blender, adding the powdered sugar until desired "fluff" has been met. Add a drop of red food color until desired "pink" has been met! Frost the cake only after it cools completely! 

February 6, 2012

Seitan Stifado

The second recipe Barb sent for me to try last week was a Stifado.  Stifado dishes are stews, and they are easy to recognize: they include onions - a lot of onions. The most commonly used are whole small boiler or pearl onions, but larger onions can be used as well, and the quantity is often equal in weight to the main ingredient.

Stifado dishes can be made with meat, poultry, seafood, game, or another vegetable as the central ingredient, with onions, wine or vinegar, tomato, and a selection of spices (often including cinnamon) creating a flavorful base. Generally made on the stove-top, there are a few stifado variations that can be made in the oven. I started mine on the stove-top and simmered it on low in the crock-pot for three hours.

I don't remember having or making stifado before, but Barb loved it and sent me her mom's recipe so I thought I'd try it.  I had most of the ingredients, I think the only thing I had to purchase was the seitan and the wine.  I wanted to make it 'vegan style' and  wasn't sure what I would use for a meat substitute.  I had thought about super firm tofu, but then I saw seitan in stew meat size chunks in the cooler at the market.  The seitan worked out great.

It's a rich stew, I am usually a bit leery of Greek cuisine when we go out as I haven't liked some of the strong flavors. I enjoyed the gravy for this stew, but did think it might be a little strong for my husband's taste.  I was tasting it while cooking though and I think by itself it was a little strong. Combined with the roasted red potatoes, I was pleasantly surprised, it's a really nice dish.  I love the color and it made the house smell pretty wonderful while it was simmering too. I think I'll make this with a zucchini or summer squash and a nice vinegar instead of the wine when the vegetables are happening in the summer.

I didn't change this recipe much except to replace stew meat with seitan.  I roasted some red potatoes to pour it on and served it with a fresh green salad of:  chard, collards, kale, red bell pepper, kalamata olives, some roasted and steamed kaniwa seeds, splash of pumpkin seed oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, sea salt, and fresh ground pepper.  The greens for the salad were picked fresh from my garden. Not out of the ordinary except that it is February.  It's not usually dry enough to get out to the garden, but we have had some warm dry days, it's been very refreshing.

Gert's Stifado, Vegan Style 

1 lb seitan, cut into bite size chunks
Olive oil or your favorite cooking oil, I used hazelnut oil
3 cloves, crushed
3 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick, cut in half
1 teaspoon allspice
1 can tomato paste
1 1/2 cups red wine
3 pounds small onions, I just used 4 very large onions chopped large

In a heavy pan brown seitan over high heat in a couple tablespoons oil, add garlic, bay leaves, cinnamon, and allspice, stir well. Add tomato paste and wine with 1 cup water.  Set aside.

Saute the onions in olive oil until golden brown and then add to the sauce, cover and simmer on very low heat for 2 to 3 hours until seitan and onions are tender.

During the cooking process the sauce should cover the seitan and onions.  Add more water, if necessary.  Sauce should be thick when ready.

February 5, 2012

Gert's Moussaka, Vegan Style

While chatting with a my lifelong friend/sister, Barb, on Facebook the other day she mentioned a couple of her mom's family recipes, Moussaka and Stifano.  I think of Moussaka as a Greek lasagna, usually made with eggplant and ground meat, lamb or beef.  It has layers of potatoes, a tangy tomato meat sauce, cheese, and a generous amount of creamy béchamel sauce poured on top of the layers, and topped with cheese.

Gert was one of my favorite mom's growing up.  She had a wide range of talents and great stories to tell of her life experiences.  We remained friends as I became an adult.  I'd come to visit Barb unannounced and if she was not home it wasn't a problem.  I was at home there and stayed anyway. Sometimes Gert & I would crack open a bottle of wine and talk through the night.  I was more at home at her house than my own parents' house. She lost the battle with stomach cancer some years ago and I do think about her from time to time and miss her. Gert was a lot of fun to be around.  She has lived all over the world and when she made an authentic ethnic dish, it was authentic.  I don't think she'd mind what I did with her family recipe. I also made a vegan version of her Stifano, a Greek beef stew, using stew meat size seitan pieces.  I'll be posting that later.  Simmering for three hours in the crock-pot, this dish made my house smell wonderful.

My version of Gert's Moussaka, vegan style.

2 Large eggplants, sliced 1/2" thick
1 14 oz. tube Gimme Lean ground beef style veggie protein - I think Soy curls would work well for this dish
3-4 small zucchini, sliced
1 1/2 pounds red potatoes
1 cup organic Panko breadcrumbs
Cooking oil such as Olive, I used hazelnut oil
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces tomato sauce, I just blended my home canned tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon chopped dried parsley
small sprig of fresh rosemary
fresh thyme leaves, about 1 teaspoon
1/2 cup red wine
about 1/2 - 3/4 cup Daiya mozzarella style vegan cheese
sea salt and ground pepper to taste

Béchamel Sauce:

1/2 cup, 1 stick, vegan margarine, I used Earth Balance organic
1/2 cup spelt flour
3 cups non dairy milk
1/2 teaspoon tumeric
pinch of nutmeg
sea salt & pepper to taste

Slice and cook the potatoes in a small amount of water for ten minutes or until just tender, al denté.  Set aside.

Peel and slice the eggplant and the zucchini and toss them with a little sea salt.  Then I put them in the dehydrator for an hour or so to let the moisture evaporate.  If you don't have a dehydrator, you can put the slices between paper towels and weight with another plate for an hour or more.

While the eggplant is drying, prepare the 'meat' sauce.  Dice or crumble the veggie protein which looks a lot like ground beef and brown it in a couple tablespoons of oil.  Then add the diced onions, garlic, sea salt, and pepper.  When the meat was brown and onions tender add the cinnamon, nutmeg, herbs, and tomato sauce.  Stir well, add the wine, and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring a couple times.

The eggplant can be steamed, or sauteed with or without a breading.  I chose to dip them in some egg replacer and dredged in a little spelt flour.  Then I gently fried them in a little hot oil just until they were golden, not very long.  Then put them aside on a paper towel until I needed them.  I suppose when I have fresh picked eggplant from the garden I could just put the slices 'as is' without any prior cooking. But, since I used eggplant from the market which is probably not so fresh, it needed some tenderizing first.

Lightly oil a 9" x 13" pan and sprinkle the panko bread crumbs in the bottom.  Leave a small space around the edges of the pan so the bechamel sauce can ooze over the sides of the dish. Make the first layer with the sliced potatoes.  Top with a layer of eggplant slices, add the tomato 'meat' sauce, sprinkle with the shredded Daiya cheese.  Add the zucchini slices next.  Top with a layer of eggplant slices.

Preheat the oven to 350º and make the béchamel sauce.

Béchamel Sauce

Melt the vegan margarine.  Using a whisk, add the flour to the melted margarine whisking continuously to make a smooth rue.  Allow the mixture to cook for a minute but do not allow it to turn brown.  Add non dairy mild in a steady stream, whisking continuously.  Simmer over low heat until it thickens a bit but does not boil.  Remove from heat, and stir in turmeric, nutmeg, salt, and pepper.

Pour the béchamel sauce over the eggplant and be sure to allow sauce to fill the sides and corners of the pan.  Smooth the bechamel on top and sprinkle remaining cheese.  Bake in 350º oven for 45 minutes or until sauce is a nice golden brown color.  Allow to cool for 15 - 20 minutes before slicing and serving.

Most of this dish can be made ahead of time, but it's best to make the béchamel sauce right before you intend to bake it.

Enjoy, I am going to go have some right now.

Another Fun Vegan/Vegetarian Potluck

Last week we had another fun vegan/vegetarian potluck in Longview.  There were mostly vegan choices this time. A couple items were made so they could be served with or without cheese as the cheese was on the side.  That was very nice.  This was our largest potluck yet, 43 diners enjoyed a great meal together.  I've heard a couple times that it was the best food yet.  Most stayed to watch Forks Over Knives.  Quite a few people who had seen the movie already said they got a little more out of it this time.

There were so many great dishes.  As you can tell from my husband's plate above, it was difficult to try everything even if you just took a small portion of each.  The plate filled up quickly.  I know there were a couple things I went back to try again and they were gone like Rachel's portabello wellington and Felicia's tofu quiché.

Here's some of the items on the buffet tables:

Broccoli Salad with dried cranberries and toasted  almonds
Vegan Caesar Salad
Massaged Kale Salad
Dirty Rice
Cole Slaw
Bean Curry & Rice
Rotini, miso, & sun-dried tomato salad
Ginger Carrot Beans & Rice
Portabello Wellington
Vegetable Pasta Stir-Fry
West African Stew
Mushroom & Cashew Hummus
Carrot & Beet Celebration salad
Honey Beer Bread
BBQ Walnut Balls
Cashew Burger Casserole
Tofu Quiché
Vegan Coconut Cakes
Vegan Coconut Lemon Cake
Peanut Butter Pie
Raw Caramel Smoothie
Some cute little coconut ginger balls
Vegan Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Jamaican Gingeraide

As Lester said "They just keep getting better."

Thanks again to all the cooks and for everyone who came out.