May 20, 2012

Morels and Fresh Asparagus in a Tangy Vegan Cream Sauce

We spent about four hours or more in the garden yesterday.  On the way home I was preparing dinner in my head.  It had been a long day and we did quite a bit of shovel work.  We were both tired and I knew when I hit the couch I'd be asleep very shortly.   I picked up some asparagus at the farmer's market and had set some morel mushrooms to soak in salt water before we left.  My first idea was to grill them with some other vegetables.  I didn't have the energy to start the coals and wait so I made a quick cream sauce.  It was pretty nice, I used some lemon juice and zest to give it a little tang, a heaping tablespoon of nutritional yeast, and a handful of some Daiya mozzarella cheese.  It took about 30 minutes from start to finish.

It was the first time I've ever used morels myself.  I've had them prepared by others.  They're pretty expensive at $20 a pound and I m not a mushroom expert.  I wouldn't feel safe picking them myself.  Christy had some at the produce store, so I picked up a quarter pound. They really have a great flavor and from what I've heard, pretty nutritious.

Health Benefits of Morels

"The nutritional content of morel mushrooms provides several health benefits, including cardiovascular and weight loss support. A 1-cup serving of morel mushrooms provides 1.8 g of fiber. Fiber absorbs bile acids in the intestines and prevents them from re-entering the bloodstream and forming cholesterol, a substance that clogs arteries and causes cardiac arrest and stroke. It also slows carbohydrate digestion, along with the 2 g of protein in morels. Together these macro-nutrients maintain a steady blood glucose level that provides consistent energy throughout the day, preventing binging and excessive snacking."

Morels & Fresh Asparagus with Cream Sauce

About 1/4 lb fresh morels
     1 tablespoon salt for soaking morels
1 lb fresh asparagus
2 tablespoons vegan margarine, I used Earth Balance
2 Cups non dairy milk, not low fat (soy or hemp work best for a creamy texture)
3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
3 tablespoons grated Daiya mozzarella cheese
Sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
8 ounces of your favorite pasta

Rinse morels and slice in half, soak in filtered water with about 1 tablespoon salt for an hour or more, drain and rinse with filtered water.

Cook, drain, and rinse pasta.

Steam the asparagus for about 3 minutes until bright green.  The asparagus should be 'al dente. Remove to colander and cool with water.  Cut asparagus into 1 " pieces.  Set aside.

In large skillet over medium high heat, add margarine and morels.  Cook the morels until tender, about 5 minutes.  Add the milk and cook until bubbly and begins to thicken. Add lemon juice, zest, salt, pepper, green onions, and parsley.  Simmer about 3 minutes or less. Combine with asparagus and pasta.  Serve immediately.  

This should serve about 4

Keep moving forward

I didn't have such a successful morning yesterday.  It started OK. I got up early and finished pressing and snipping the last 20 tote bags made. I gathered my supplies and headed over to the farmer's market to sit in my friend's stall and sell them.  We set up the rack with a couple bags and showed it to he farmer's market board.  Unfortunately the market has rules about selling the fundraising items.  I understand that, I guess.  The money made at the market really should go to the farmers and not a national organization.  I packed it up and I'll try the Bridge Market today.  Christy has a produce booth along with plants and offered to share some of her space.  Hopefully I can stay a little while this time.

After leaving the farmer's market, I headed over to Rachel's baby shower.  At least I'm on-time, I thought.  The party starts at noon and I said I might be late due to the market.  I got to the house on the street with the balloons in front.  There was a party at this house, but it was a child's birthday party. Ah heck, not only is the party at the house across the street, it is Sunday, not Saturday.  I was a little early.  Oh well, went home and packed up and had a great afternoon in the garden.

About the Tote Bags

Michele read an article last year about how to make a tote bag out of a tee shirt.  She shared it with Donna and I and thought maybe we could use this idea for a Relay for Life fundraiser.  Looked pretty fun to me.  There were a lot of shirts no one ever used for past Relay events. The director of the local event even found us some more shirts to use from other counties. Donna and Michele snipped out the collars and sleeves of the shirts and I sewed them into shopping bags.  The white bags needed some personality so I took them over to my friend's art studio in Rainier, Oregon and she turned them into what I think are the coolest shopping bags in Longview.  These shirts are now useful tote bags good for groceries, gym clothes, or beach bags.  We're selling them for $10 each and the proceeds go to the American Cancer Society.

Garden Update

It's been awhile since I shared a garden update.  We've been out every chance we can get turning the soil and planting our garden.  We're almost planted.  We've got one more section in the back to turn, but we're running out of room now.  Friday afternoon I planted:  eight ball zucchini, delicata squash, broccoli, jalepeños, Thai chilies, some more flowers, & basil.  Yesterday we planted: three or four kinds or tomatoes, persimmons, yellow paddy pan squash, crookneck squash, zucchini, Anaheim peppers, mustard greens, and fennel. We only have one more section to plant. Hopefully we'll get potatoes and collard greens soon, and some more flowers :)

The artichokes have come in healthier than I've ever seen them.  It's the third year for these plants and I've counted more than ten artichokes already on two plants.  There are lots of herbs coming in and the chard made it through the winter.  I love it that we can take something home when we've just begun the harder work of gardening.  The ground was really tough and muddy this year.  It took awhile to get out there in our wet spring, but we managed to get a lot in. 

May 13, 2012

Vegan Lemon Almond Cake

Happy Mother's Day to all the mom's out there.  I've got a tofu quiché in the oven with fresh picked organic spinach, asparagus, yellow and orange bell peppers, and green onions.  Looking forward to seeing how that comes out.  While it's baking I thought I'd share a quick lemon cake I made last weekend.

I began with a recipe from the Flexitarian Cookbook and veganized it.  That didn't take much to veganize.  I used Ener-G egg replacer and millet milk. Millet milk is something I recently learned to make, it's very creamy. I really like using the Ener-G egg replacer for baking.  It whips up like an egg does and gives a fluffy texture to the batter.

Lemon Almond Cake

1½ cups unbleached whole wheat white flour
1 cup sucanat, raw cane sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼  teaspoon salt
Egg replacer for two eggs, Ener-G or flaxseed meal and water
½ cup non dairy milk, I used home made millet milk
½ cup sunflower, or other light oil (Don't use olive oil for this cake)
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
4.5 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup sucanat, or other sugar

Preheat oven to 300º Lightly grease a 4 x 8" loaf pan or 9" cake pan

In medium bowl sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

In a separate small bowl whisk together the egg replacer, milk, oil, almond extract, and lemon zest.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until no lumps remain.  Don't mix it too much.

Spread batter into prepared pan and bake about 30 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

While the cake is baking, combine the lemon juice and sugar in a small pot or skillet over medium heat.  Cook until the sugar dissolves.

When the cake comes out of the oven, use a skewer to poke holes through the cake to the bottom, about 20 holes. Let the cake cool about 20 minutes and pour the lemon glaze over the cake.  I sprinkled a little lavender on my cake.

Serve warm

Millet Milk

1 C cooked millet
1/3-2/3 Cup raw cashews or almonds, soaked two hours
2 quart water

Blend the millet, cashews, and 1 quart water in a high speed blender such as a Blendtec or Vita-Mix until creamy.  If your blender is large enough, add a pinch of salt, and the rest of the water.  If not, just pour into a two quart pitcher, add a pinch of salt and the other quart of water. Whisk together and chill.

May 12, 2012

Quinoa Burgers with Tzatziki Sauce

These were fun.  I saw a beautiful picture and recipe of a quinoa burger in another place I like to share recipes.

Love That Quinoa Burger from a blog called Eating Well... Living Thin~er

I gave it a try, but veganized the recipe.  They're lovely burgers, very flavorful, and easy to make.  I had some butternut squash left to use from the live nachos, so I sliced it up and put it on the grill next to the burgers. I heard the flour is very important to keep them together as patties.  I used some Cassava flour, mostly because I have some.  It not only made for gluten free burgers, I thought the cassava flour would be more moist than wheat flour and form a nice patty.

Quinoa Burgers ~ Vegan Style

2 cups cooked quinoa
3/4 cup Daiya cheddar cheese
1/2 cup firm tofu, crumbled
1 medium zucchini, grated and squeezed a bit to get most the liquid out, about 1 cup
     grated carrot is nice instead of zucchini also
3 teaspoons Enr-G egg replacer, whisked with 4 1/2 tablespoons filtered water
3 tablespoons all purpose flour, I used Cassava flour
1/3 cup chopped green onions
1/2 teaspoon ground stevia leaves, agave or other sweetener will work well too, this is optional
1 tablespoon tamari
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder, I used ground garlic scapes I dried last summer

In a large bowl combine the cooked quinoa, Daiya cheese, tofu, zucchini or carrots, egg replacer, flour, green onions, sweetener, if using, pepper, cumin, sea salt, and garlic powder.

Heat a grill or large frying pan and a couple teaspoons of olive oil over a medium heat.  Mixture will be slightly sticky.  I used a three ounce scoop and dropped the mixture onto the hot pan and lightly flattened to about 1/2 inch thick.  After they seared just a minute or two, I turned the pan down to medium low and let them cook slowly about eight minutes each side.

I served them with some vegan tzatziki sauce, grilled butternut squash, and a cucumber, red onion, and bell pepper salad.

Tzatziki Sauce

1 cup unsweetened vegan yogurt
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 teaspoons fresh chopped mint
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons olive oil
½ cup peeled, grated cucumber, patted dry

In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Introducing Live Nachos

Ruth, my organic farmer friend, and I have been talking to a nutrition class once a quarter at the local community college.  The instructor invited us to come share what we know about organic gardening and plant based eating.  Ruth talks about her farm and shares her trials and rewards of organic farming.  She covers the documentation, the successes and failures of her crops, farmer's markets, and answers many questions about gardening.  Since it is finally spring around here and the gardens are getting planted, there were lots of questions for Ruth this time.  For the next hour I get to talk about the food and why someone chooses a plant based lifestyle.  I've brought in books, articles, recipes, other resources, and share some of what I've learned through this journey.

The first two sessions, I brought some home made vegan treats such as cookies, kale chips, flax crackers, and I think I brought some vegan cupcakes.  This time I brought my Blendtec and my recently acquired Vegan Fusion training and demonstrated how to make vegan nacho cheese.  It was a lot more fun then just talking and an opportunity to practice my own teaching skills.  We weren't sure at first where we were going with this, it seems to be evolving into a nice presentation.

I made the chips at home in the dehydrator ahead of time, a batch of cheese, fresh salsa, and chipotle cream and handed the students a beautiful serving of raw vegan nachos as I began my demonstration.  I wanted them to taste them before I told them I used raw butternut squash and cashews as a base.  There were a lot of questions and really good comments.  I think, it went over very well, I didn't see any in the garbage can when I cleaned up.  Most of these students had not tried a vegan or live dish like this. 

Spicy Nacho Crackers/Chips and Nacho Cheese are from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Eating Raw.  They're very tasty!

This was more than just sharing the plant based food this time.  The classroom was in a different building than it has been.  It was in the rooms the business classes are taught in. As I walked near the classroom carrying my supplies memories of carrying a heavy backpack in this very hallway came back.  This was not the first time I've demonstrated and shared some of my kitchen witchery with students.  Twenty-five years ago in this very building I was taking some businesses class here, a marketing and a business communications class.  As with most classes I took in college a research paper and a presentation were required.  I usually started with what I know, food, and did a presentation for a business idea, a deli with delivery service.  I decided if I was really presenting a business idea to investors I'd like them to know what I can do. So, of course, my presentation included fresh strawberry cheesecake.  I used my cooking skills through business classes a lot.  But, Oh my Gosh! my cooking habits have changed.  Back then, you could have watched your arteries hardening right before your very eyes from my cheesecake.  I used lots of cream cheese and three or four eggs, processed ginger snap cookies for the crust, cooked in real butter.  I still love to make strawberry cheesecake, but the recipe is much different now.  No animal products and the ingredients in the base of the recipe, cashews or tofu, are usually very high in nutrients.

May 6, 2012

Seitan Gyros - I Can't Believe it's Vegan

I am so excited to share this dish.  It's a vegan Gyros pita made with an herbed seitan.  I found the recipe in the VegNews Magazine. There's a whole section of Greek vegan recipes this time including:  Spanikopita, Baklava, and this Gyros complete with a tzatziki sauce. These recipes are by Catherine Dorrell, The Messy Vegetarian Cook. I haven't made seitan from scratch in a long time.  Thought I'd give it a try.  My son, Marty used to work at a Gyros at the mall, maybe I could entice him to have dinner with us. He does have a hard time in a kitchen usually full of food finding something he thinks he'd like.

Fake meats aren't something I eat a lot of.  I did experiment more with them when I was transitioning from meat.  At the first VegFest I attended, I watched a demonstration in preparing vegan sausage, seitan, by the founder of Field Roast.  It was a good demo and I immediately went home and cooked up a good batch.  I used fresh herbs and dried cranberries and nuts, I think.  It was tasty, but it wasn't something I was really excited about.  I wasn't thrilled about the texture, it was a lot of work.  I boiled it in the crock-pot I think for a long time. I also didn't think too much gluten in our diets is a good idea. After all, Seiten isn't for the gluten intolerant.  It's largely Vital Wheat Gluten, so should probably only be eaten occasionally, in my opinion.

It started with a recipe I saw for Herbed Feta.  It looked interesting, easy, and I had some extra firm tofu in the fridge and dried herbs in the pantry.  I'd love to have another vegan cheese recipe in my kitchen.

Herbed Feta

1 16-ounce package extra-firm tofu, cut into ½-inch cubes
2 cups filtered water
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
3 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano

In a large saucepan over low heat, combine all ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes.  Set aside to cool and then refrigerate overnight.  Drain and use in place of feta.

The longer they sit in the brine, the tastier they become. 

While I was reading the feta recipe I noticed the whole page was about the Gyro sandwich.  I did have some vital gluten around looking for a home.  I had some left over from a recent project and was wondering what to do with it.  I'll give seitan another try, it's been awhile.  I am sooo glad I did!  This turned out very flavorful and tender.  It wasn't too difficult either.  The ingredients are mixed together, dry and wet.  Then it's kneaded for 30 seconds, rolled in foil, steamed 45 minutes, then the whole roll is popped in the oven for 30 minutes.  I was very surprised at the color and texture when it opened the roll.  When it went it in, it looked kind of like bread dough.  It came out looking like a nice sausage.  I'm amazed.

For the Seitan:

1¼ Vital Wheat Gluten
1/3 cup soy flour
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon rubbed thyme
¼ teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon allspice
¼ cup red wine
1/3 cup vegetable stock
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup diced yellow onion
3 cloves garlic, minced

In a large bowl, stir together wheat gluten, soy flour, oregano, salt, thyme, cumin, pepper, and allspice.  In a blender, blend wine, vegetable stock, olive oil, onion, and garlic until smooth.  Combine liquid and dry ingredients and knead into dough for about 30 seconds, forming into a 6-inch-long roll.  Wrap the dough in foil and twist ends to seal closed.

In a steamer, steam dough for 45 minutes.  Preheat oven to 350º, then bake for 30 minutes.  Allow to cool slightly before unwrapping and cutting into paper-thin slices.

Tzatziki Sauce

1 cup unsweetened vegan yogurt
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 teaspoons fresh chopped mint
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons olive oil
½ cup peeled, grated cucumber, patted dry

In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Slice Pitas in half, sprinkle some fresh lemon juice over the seitan slices, add fresh onion, tomato, lettuce, or your favorite greens.

May 5, 2012

Wasabi Oven Home Fries

This is a quick and tasty treat I tried yesterday.  I finally got around to opening up my latest VegNews Magazine.  It didn't take long to find something easy to try.  I noticed some Wasabi Oven Fries that looked pretty good and I had a small bag of little organic yellow potatoes.  I took the warm bowl of home fries out into the yard with a glass of tea and joined my husband who was already out with the camera trying to catch some good shots of the extra large full moon.

Wasabi Oven Fries
     a recipe by Terry Hope Romero

4 cups russet potatoes, scrubbed, peeled, and sliced ½-inch thick.  (I used the small organic yellow potatoes and I didn't peel them.)
2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons aonori seaweed flakes (I had some crumbled Wakame dried seaweed.)
1 tablespoon wasabi powder
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt or tamari
1 teaspoon rice vinegar

Preheat oven to 475º

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.  In a large mixing bowl toss potato slices with oil and spread in a single layer on baking sheet.  Roast for 20 minutes, then flip the fries.  Roast for another 4 to 8 minutes, or until crisp.  Transfer baked fries back into large mixing bowl.

In a small bow, combine seaweed flakes, wasabi powder, sugar, and salt.  Sprinkle the fires with the rice vinegar and tamari, if using, then with half the topping, toss the fries, then sprinkle with remaining  topping and toss again.  Serve warm, Enjoy!

These were delightful, salty, sweet, warm and easy. The Wasabi is very subtle.

I also found a great recipe in the issue for Herbed Feta Cheese made from extra firm tofu.  I've got it marinating in the fridge right now.  I'll let you know what I do with that.

BBQ Tempeh and Forbidden Rice Salad

I'm finding more and more that cooking plant based has become habit rather than working on change.  Coming home and preparing dinner is as easy as it used to be before we went plant based.  I was thinking about this last Thursday night.  It only took me about an hour to come up with a great meal for dinner and enough for our lunches for the next day. When I got home from work, I sliced some whole grain tempeh I had in the fridge into strips and and tossed them in a marinade of Wheat Free Tamari, fresh lemon juice, a little Mirin, and a dash of sesame oil.

While the tempeh was marinating I peeled and sliced about eight very nice apple pears I picked up on the way home from work at the local produce store.  I sprinkled the slices with cinnamon, nutmeg, and a little spice mixture from the cooking class last week.  I think it had some cumin, ground almonds, sesame seeds, and a little lavender.  I threw the slices in the dehydrator.  Just love dried apple pears, they're like candy to me. They'll be ready in the morning. I like to take them out when they are dry, but still a little moist and crunchy inside.

I put on a small pot of black forbidden rice and a pot kaniwa.  They both take about 20 minutes to cook and when they were done, I tossed them together and added some chopped green onion and diced red bell pepper, Tamari, Lemon Juice, Sea Salt, and a little Raw Apple Cider Vinegar.  Served on a bed of chard chiffonade and fresh sliced cucumber.  I picked the chard and cucumber from the garden Sunday.

Forbidden Rice & Kaniwa Salad

While the rice and kaniwa were cooking I browned the marinated tempeh in about a little less than a tablespoon of coconut oil and added some vegan barbeque sauce I had made up a couple days before.  I made the sauce on Sunday, planning to make this dish sometime this week. I cooked the tempeh and sauce just a few minutes until the sauce was warmed through.

Marinated Tempeh Browning

BBQ Tempeh

The BBQ Sauce is an easy recipe from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Eating Raw. pg 139

½ cup sun-dried tomatoes
¼ cup raisins
1 cup filtered water
2 TB fresh dill, minced (I used 1 TB dried dill)
1½ tsp. raw apple cider vinegar
½ tsp. stone-ground mustard
Sea Salt to taste
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 TB olive oil
¼ cup tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 chipotle pepper, ribs and seeds removed, and soaked (optional)

Soak the sun-dried tomatoes and raisins in the filtered water in a small bowl for at least 30 minutes, reserving soak water.

Place the sun-dried tomatoes, raisins, dill, apple cider vinegar, mustard, salt, pepper, olive oil, chopped tomatoes, chipotle pepper, and 1/4 cup soak water from tomatoes and raisins in a blender and blend on high for 30 to 40 seconds until a paste forms.

I spread half of this paste on my tempeh in the skillet and added the remaining soak water to the blender and blended for another 30 seconds to make a nice sauce. I drizzled some sauce on the warm plated tempeh.

May 4, 2012

Learning New Skills

I lost track with the blog for a little while, life has been busy.  In preparation for my upcoming training, I have been cooking mostly out of two cookbooks, The 30-Minute Vegan and The Taste of The East the last few weeks so I didn't feel I should be posting too many same chef's recipes.  It's just not good chef etiquette.

 Recently I spent three days training to teach plant based cooking with one of my favorite chefs and the author of these vegan cookbooks, Mark Reinfeld, of Vegan Fusion.  I am now in the third phase of the training.  I'll assist in a couple five and ten day classes and then give it a try on my own beginning with intimate demos in the local health food store, the produce store, and private homes.  I'd love to do a demo at the farmer's market using just the ingredients on hand there.  I'm a bit nervous, but excited to try out something new.  I always did love working in the restaurant business.  I enjoy helping people create their own meals and participate in their celebrations. This way, I can be a part of sharing wonderful food without the stress of trying to run a restaurant.  I like that idea. We'll see how it goes.  Not quitting the day job just yet. The training was great and I feel like I have the tools to begin exploring this adventure.

This month I'm assisting an experienced teacher with a three part class based on Dr. McDougall's plant based diet. Then towards the end of the month, I'm off to Portland to assist in a five day intensive training.  Looking forward to cooking with new friends.

First Demonstration:  Tomato Mung Bean Salad

 How to clean the seeds from a chili pepper without touching the seeds. 

I'm creating some great meals in my warm kitchen.  I have quite a few fun recipes to share, I'll be posting some shortly.