Posts Tagged appetizers

Thanksgiving 2012 – Appetizers

So, October went by, and most of November, and VeganMoFo happened again!  I briefly considered participating, but I knew I couldn’t make the time commitment to do it justice, so I left it to those who could.  If you haven’t yet, check out the blog roll or rss feeds.  I can’t wait to browse them myself.

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!  Mine was so fantastic that I’m splitting it into three posts.  First up, the appetizers.  Friends were coming over early to start watching football, and we were waiting a little longer than usual to eat dinner to wait for one guest’s flight to land, so we wanted to make sure there was plenty to snack on.

I saw these recipes for Goat Cheese Torta online a few weeks before Thanksgiving, and knew right away I wanted to make a vegan version.   I kind of mixed up the two recipes in my head and ended up with a good combination.

For the cheese mixture, I made a double batch or C’est La V’s cashew goat cheese, skipping the baking step at the end.  I then blended it with one tub of Tofutti Cream Cheese, fresh oregano, and some black pepper.  I lined a bread pan with plastic wrap and layered a quarter of the cheese, pesto (recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance), a quarter of the cheese, sundried tomato pate, another quarter of the cheese, olive tapenade, and the remaining cheese.  Cover with plastic wrap and press it down a bit, refrigerate overnight, and turn onto a plate to serve.

When you cut into it, you can see the layers of deliciousness.  Mine wasn’t quite as prettily layered as the recipe photos, but I thought it still looked pretty nice.

The flavor?  AMAZING.  It was creamy, tangy, salty, fatty, herby, and every other good-sounding adjective.  Dave and one of our guests said that they wouldn’t have known it was vegan, which is always nice to hear when it comes to fake cheese.  The torta was mostly gone by the end of the day, which may have had a lot to do with me eating about a ton of it.

To keep things on the lighter side, I also put out a veggie tray with dip and grapes.  I found some really pretty produce at the farmers market, including purple cauliflower and multiple colored carrots.  The dip was Vegan Dill Dip, which I made true to the recipe except for using reduced fat Vegenaise.  The dried minced onion softened overnight and had a nice texture, and the only thing I would change next time would be to add even more fresh dill.

On the right is an antipasto platter, which Dave added to round out the spread.  (The appetizer table became the dinner buffet, which is why the serving dishes are hanging out in the back.)

For a pre-dinner drink, I made a pitcher of Cranberry Ginger Martinis.  I tied the fresh ginger and cranberries up in cheesecloth, and kind of estimated on multiplying splashes of this and that, and even after adding extra Sprite the drink was strong!  Good, but strong.  I made sure to put a few big ice cubes in each one and let them melt a bit first.

Next up, the main meal.

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Food For Sports

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you probably know that Dave and I like sports – we like inviting people over to watch sports, and we love going to games!  Here are some foods that we ate while watching or preparing to watch sports.

Our friend Tom is a biiiiig Green Bay Packers fan, so we were very excited for their final playoff game against the Bears.  (Yes, all the way back in January.)  We had some friends over and observed what we’re told is a Green Bay tradition.  Apparently, Packers fans bring chili to their tailgates, then mix all the chilis together in a giant pot.  We didn’t have a pot big enough to hold all the chilis, so we just mixed them in our bowls.  Well…everyone else mixed them, I just ate my vegan chili.

For an attempt at authenticity, I based mine on this recipe for Wisconsin Chili.  I used soy crumbles instead of meat, and the only other major change I made was to saute the vegetables before adding the rest of the ingredients.  This was a simple chili, and very tasty!  Even the meat eaters liked it.

I topped my bowl of hot chili with some shredded cheddar Teese.

Oh, yes I did.  I made a chili cheese dog, and it was amazing.  Carbs on carbs, mmmmm…

Imagine our delight when the Packers won and advanced to the Super Bowl!  Naturally, we had friends over for a Super Bowl party.  Aaron Rodgers vs. Ben Roethlisberger, to me, was practically good vs. evil, so I was rooting for the Packers big time.

Jake greeted our guests by the door.

I made a seven layer dip a la this post, and served it with Trader Joe’s Corn Chip Dippers, which are awesome.  I also put out some TJ’s Trek Mix with chocolate, which is also awesome.  All on a green tablecloth, of course.

Dave was preparing some sort of meat with baked beans and mac n cheese, so I put together a similar plate.

Buffalo Tempeh from Appetite for Reductions.  SO GOOD.  I will be making this again and again.

Mac and Trees, no trees, also from Appetite for Reductions.  I put some breadcrumbs on top and baked (overbaked) it.  Also so good!

Fantastic football dinner!

I made a Packers cookie cake!  Toward the end of the third quarter, when the Steelers were threatening to mount a comeback, we decided we needed to “consume the power of the Packers” in order to help, and we dug in.  Cookie cakes are always loved.  After The Great Cookie Cake Catastrophe of 2008, when I dropped a blob of icing on the top of the N in NY, I was very careful with the frosting, and so happy with how it turned out!  To make a cookie cake, I just prepare the chocolate chip cookie recipe from Vegan With A Vengeance then press the whole thing onto a round pan covered with foil, and bake maybe a bit longer than the recipe calls for.  The edges get chewy but the middle stays nice and gooey.  The topping is just regular buttercream; I used the recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.

I like to believe that the cookie cake aided the Pack in the win.  After football was over, we had nothing to do other than look forward to baseball season.  For the first baseball tailgate, we needed a cold side dish to go with some barbecue, and I went with potato salad.

I don’t think a picture of potato salad can really ever do potato salad justice, because this potato salad was super duper delicious.  I started with Betty Crocker’s recipe for Creamy Potato Salad and replaced the mayo with half regular Vegenaise, and half low-fat.  I left out the egg, obviously, and added some relish and fresh chopped dill.  You can never have enough fresh dill.

Perfect meal for eating in a parking lot – potato salad, grilled mushrooms and barbecue tofu.

I wanted to make a special dessert for our first tailgate of the season, and I had a crazy idea about making something with Cracker Jacks.  I googled it, and found out that rather than baking with Cracker Jacks, I could make cookies that taste like Crackers Jacks.

I veganized this Cracker Jack Cookie recipe, swapping out egg replacer for the eggs and using organic brown rice cereal instead of Rice Krispies.  I also added peanuts, because what good are Cracker Jacks without the peanuts?  Somehow, the cookies actually did taste a little like Cracker Jacks.  I don’t like shredded sweetened coconut at all, but it was fine in this cookie since there were so many textures going on.  The cookies spread a little more than I would like, so I want to make these cookies again with more binder, and I’ll post a recipe once it’s perfected.

Finally, I know the Kentucky Derby isn’t very vegan, but its official drink is.  Dave is a fan of horse racing, so he invited a few friends over for the derby and we mixed up some mint juleps.

Apparently there are a few different ways to make a mint julep, but I followed the recipe on the derby website.  It’s super easy.  You just make a simple syrup and chill it with fresh mint, then strain out the mint.  Put ice in a glass, add syrup, whiskey and fresh mint, and sip!  Seriously though, sip.  This is one strong beverage.

We don’t have highball glasses or julep cups, so we drank ours out of half-pint mason jars.  We’re classy like that.

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VeganMoFo: Thanksgiving 2010

We originally invited four friends over for Thanksgiving but only one could make it, so we had a small, relaxed gathering.  We set the table up behind the couch for easy football watching during dinner – excellent.

Our appetizer was Pepper Crusted Cashew Goat Cheese, balsamic roasted figs, and crackers.  The cheese log was AWESOME.  I super heart it.  The recipe is C’est La Vegan’s adaptation of the Vegetarian Times recipe, and I really appreciated the extra commentary and directions that she provided.  I was worried that my cheese wasn’t going to hold together because it didn’t drain off much liquid and felt soft coming out of the oven, but it held together well enough to transfer to the platter, and the consistency was perfectly spreadable.  I would highly recommend giving this a try if you like tangy, spreadable, delicious vegan cheese.  The recipe seems lengthy, but it doesn’t have to be; I soaked the cashews while at work the day before, blended it that night and let it sit overnight, then baked it in the morning.

The figs were tossed with a bit of balsamic, olive oil and salt and baked at 350 for about 25 minutes.  They weren’t a huge hit with Dave or our guest, but I liked them well enough.

I also put out a bowl of sweet ‘n spicy mixed nuts, which I over baked a little.  Oops…

I wanted to serve soup and salad, and kept the servings small so that we wouldn’t fill up before the main event.

Chestnut & Celeriac Soup with Sherry-Cider Reduction.  As I said in the recipe post, I put a bit too much reduction on the soup – It really only needs a small drizzle.

Chopped Salad with “Honey”-Lemon Poppy Seed Vinaigrette.  I planned to make this for Thanksgiving ever since it went over so well at our Showcase dinner.  I substituted agave for the honey, and left out the apples and avocado.  I can see how it would be even better with avocado.  Neither of the guys ate their entire salad, but they both said they liked it, which is really impressive for a salad containing both raw kale and brussels sprouts.

There was so much food, we used every surface.  Dave did make a turkey with gravy and non-vegan stuffing, but other than that, everything was vegan!

He also made a vegan oyster mushroom stuffing, which was really nice because it was one less dish I had to worry about.  And as a bonus, it was really good!  Earth Balance, onion, celery, oyster mushrooms, fresh sage, thyme and rosemary, stale bread cubes, and unchicken broth.

Mound of mashed potatoes with Earth Balance, truffle salt and almond milk.

Green Bean Casserole, topped with French’s fried green beans as opposed to freshly fried onions, at Dave’s request.  While I do like my version with homemade crispy onions, I also have to admit that the French’s onions are quite excellent for this purpose.

Orange-Cranberry Sauce.  I wasn’t going to make any cranberry sauce this year because it’s not our favorite part of the meal, but my CSA sent me a package of fresh cranberries the week before, so what choice did I have?  I set out to make a mold, but it didn’t set up enough, so I called it a smooth sauce.  No recipe – I just cooked the cranberries with the juice of two oranges and zest of one, adding a pinch of salt and a squeeze of agave nectar.  They simmered just until soft, then I blended the mixture and returned it to the pot, adding a few Tablespoons of agar flakes and some maple syrup.  It tasted nice, but I was sad when the mold didn’t hold its shape.

My entree was the Nut Roast Extraordinaire that I froze a few weeks ago, on the plate with corn and Our Veggie Kitchen’s Turkey Gravy.  The gravy actually did kinda taste like turkey!  Granted, it’s been a long time since I had turkey.  While it wasn’t my favorite gravy ever, it’s definitely worth a try if you’re looking for a vegan turkey gravy.

All together.

Dessert was Pumpkin Pie from the Mission:  Impossible Pies e-book, served with Purely Decadent Coconut Milk Vanilla Ice Cream.  Dave wanted a store-bought pie and was suspicious when he heard that our pie wasn’t going to have any crust, but in the end he admitted that this version was good too.  He certainly didn’t complain while we ate the leftovers!

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My First Try at Personal Cheffing

The very last component of the Natural Chef Program at Bauman College is the externship.  While many students completed their externships at restaurants or with catering companies, I chose to spend mine trying out personal cheffing, since it is what I am considering as a possible future career.  I recruited some vegan friends on The PPK who were interested in trying it out as well, from the client’s perspective.  In California, legally, food has to be prepared in a professional facility like a commercial kitchen, or in the client’s home, which is where personal cheffing comes in.

For my first assignment, I cooked a special dinner for Megan and her roommates.  The birthday boy’s favorite cuisines are Central American and Middle Eastern, and I chose to go Central American for the challenge, as I didn’t really have much experience in the area.  Note – This was before Viva Vegan came out, which would have made my planning a whole lot easier!  I did as much research as possible in order to present a somewhat-authentic meal.  I didn’t have time to take pictures, as I was serving each course plated, but Megan’s sister was kind enough to snap some shots.

First, I brought out Strawberry Agua Fresca and some South American beers.  BevMo didn’t have any Central American beers, so we had to settle for South.

The agua fresca was just strawberries, water, a little sugar, and lime juice blended up and strained.  Delicious!

The appetizer was chorizo-spiced mushroom papusas with curtido and hot sauce.

For the filling, I sauteed some diced mushrooms with a chorizo seasoning mix based on this recipe, then added some fresh cilantro as I stuffed the papusas.  The curtido recipe is from Vegan Lunch Box Around the World.

I chose a cold soup that I could make ahead for the second course, to free up some burners and cooking time in preparation for the main course.

This is Mark Bittman’s Savory Cold Mango Soup.  Not authentically Central American, but close enough flavor-wise to go with the meal.  I wasn’t sure how well this would turn out, but the diners really liked it.

For the salad course, I chose Hearts of Palm Salad with Cilantro Vinaigrette.  Except that the grocery store I went to, which is usually very well stocked, didn’t have hearts of palm.  So, it turned into an artichoke heart salad, which was probably just as good.  The recipe didn’t call for avocado, but I figured there oughta be avocado somewhere in the meal.

The entree was a large plate of food, and the diners were starting to get full by this point, but they tried their darndest to eat as much as possible!

This is Tofu Pepian, Gallo Pinto, Sauteed Kale and Roasted Plantains.  The pepian sauce is from this recipe.  It was really easy to make, and ridiculously flavorful.  It was my first time working with tomatillos, so I was pleased to find out that they are relatively easy to work with.  I breaded the tofu with the method of the Cajun Spiced Tofu from Yellow Rose Recipes.  I used this Gallo Pinto recipe, which was super duper delicious, and the kale was simply chopped and sauteed in a bit of oil with some salt.  The ripe plantains were tossed with some oil and roasted at 425F, just until they started to brown.

Dessert was the birthday boy’s choice…

Smlove Pie from Veganomicon.  This picture cannot express how amazingly delicious this pie is.  It’s somewhat time-consuming to make, but so very worth it.

After this meal I was exhausted and their kitchen was a mess, but they thoroughly enjoyed the meal and I learned a lot about planning and executing a catered dinner.  I’ll return soon to tell you about the rest of my externship experiences!

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Showcase #2

Jeebus, I’ve been busy!  Between baseball games, a bachelorette party, a wedding, a going away picnic for Melisser, a fundraiser date at Souley Vegan and Beer Revolution, finishing up my externship, trying to exercise regularly and being really swamped at work, I have been a busy lady.  I have tons to catch up on here, so I’m hoping to start posting more often and get caught up to current.  Expect some long posts coming up!

I introduced the showcase in my last post – it was basically a catered dinner that served as our final group project for the Natural Chef program at Bauman College.  We started planning about two months in advance, and we were divided into committees – decorating, budget and shopping.  We were all involved in recipe planning and the cooking, and some students served as front of the house staff.  It was a lot of work and the entire class couldn’t agree on much anything, but in the end it all turned out well.

We went with a theme called “American Twist” and made updated, healthy versions of American classics.  All vegetarian and gluten free!

The Berkeley Bauman kitchen classroom isn’t the prettiest of rooms, so it was interesting trying to fancy it up on a budget.  We used a lot of things that we already owned, as well as flowers and plants from our yards.

Setting up during the day.

Guests – Dave and our friend Matt are in the back of the room.

The class, with out showcase instructor, Chef Lizette.

Ed Bauman’s wife Chris Bauman came and took lovely pictures while we worked.  (These pictures are published as a student, with her permission.)  She spent a lot of time in the front of the house and I was in the back cooking, so this is the only picture of just me.  I am very serious about sauteing these tempeh meatballs!

On to the important part – the food!

Our “welcome beverage” was my recipe for Green Ginger Ale.  The color is so beautiful, and it tastes fantastic!

Green Ginger Ale

(recipe scaled for 10 servings – to make a lesser amount, divide all ingredients by 3)

3 oranges, peeled
3 green apples, quartered and cored
3-inch piece ginger
3 cups spinach
20 oz sparkling mineral water

Juice the oranges, apples, ginger and spinach.  Combine with sparkling water and serve immediately.  One serving is 1/2 cup juice plus 1/4 cup sparkling water.

We decided on passed appetizers versus plated, so that we’d have less plates to wash!  The first appetizer was my Tempeh Meatballs with Maple BBQ Sauce.  These received mixed reviews.  I absolutely love them (after testing many, many versions), but I think people who aren’t used to tempeh might not have been too into them.

Tempeh Meatballs with Maple BBQ Sauce

8 oz tempeh
1/4 cup quinoa flour
1 Tbs maple syrup
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbs water or Maple BBQ Sauce
1 1/2 Tbs wheat-free tamari
1 Tbs arrowroot
1 Tbs nutritional yeast
1 tsp dried sage
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried marjoram
1/2 tsp fennel seed
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil
1/2 recipe Maple BBQ Sauce (recipe below)

1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil.  Cube the tempeh and simmer it for 15 minutes.  Drain and let cool.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
3. Place the dried sage, thyme, marjoram and fennel seed in a spice grinder and grind into a powder.
4. Finely crumble the tempeh into a large bowl.  Add all remaining ingredients, including ground spices, and mix very well.  Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.
5. Roll 1 Tbs of the mixture into a ball, and repeat with the rest of the mixture.
6. Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Line the skillet thinly with olive oil.  Place some of the meatballs in the skillet, being careful not to overcrowd, and saute, shaking the pan occasionally, until slightly browned.  Repeat with remaining batches, adding more oil as needed.  Dip the meatballs in the Maple BBQ Sauce to thinly coat, and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
7. Bake the meatballs for 10 minutes.  Dip the meatballs in the sauce again and bake for another 10 minutes.  Serve immediately, topping with more sauce if needed.

Servings: 6
Yield: about 24 meatballs

Maple BBQ Sauce

28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup organic, sugar-free grape juice
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tbs molasses
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1/2 Tbs vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
12 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp ground red pepper
1/2 tsp sea salt

1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.  Transfer to a medium saucepan.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes, stirring often.

Servings: 12

It was prime asparagus season at the time, so we wanted to be sure to incorporate asparagus with these asparagus pesto-stuffed mushrooms.  We based the asparagus pesto off of a recipe found online (might have been this one), and we tested a vegan version and vegetarian version with Parmesan.  The class preferred the one with cheese, so that’s what we used.

We chose to combine the soup and salad courses into a “soup, salad and sandwich” combination.

This is Roasted Cauliflower Bisque, Chopped Salad with Honey-Lemon Poppy Seed Vinaigrette, and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches (raw gouda and caramelized shallots on gluten-free brioche).  The cauliflower soup wasn’t vegan as originally proposed, but they ended up making it vegan.  I don’t know what they switched out for the butter – probably oil – but here is the original recipe for you to veganize if you want.  I was glad I got to try the soup – it was fantastic!

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

1 head garlic
3 Tbs olive oil, divided
2 Tbs butter
3 medium onions, diced
4 tsp sea salt, divided
6 medium heads cauliflower, chopped
1 gallon vegetable stock, divided
2 bay leaves
fresh ground pepper to taste
3-4 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
truffle oil to drizzle
fresh thyme leaves for garnish

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Slice the top of the garlic head, exposing the cloves.  Drizzle 1 tsp olive oil over garlic and wrap tightly in parchment.  Bake upright in a small baking dish for 30 minutes.  Set aside to cool.

On three large, rimmed baking sheets lined with parchment, spread cauliflower pieces in an even layer.  Drizzle evenly with 2 to 3 Tbs olive oil.  Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until cooked through and slightly golden.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a large pot over medium heat.  Add onions and 1 tsp salt.  Saute for 5 minutes, until translucent.  Add cauliflower, garlic, bay leaves and 3/4 of the vegetable stock.  Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes.

Using a high speed blender, puree cauliflower-garlic mixture until smooth, working in batches.  Return puree to pot, add remaining vegetable stock, remaining salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer for 5 minutes until heated through.  Stir in lemon juice, nutmeg and paprika.  Ladle into bowls.  Drizzle with truffle oils and garnish with fresh thyme leaves.

Yields:  36 servings

The salad was so pretty!  It was also not vegan, so I never got to try it, but I can imagine it was very tasty.  It’s easily veganizable by swapping agave nectar for the honey, so here’s the recipe!

Chopped Salad with Honey-Lemon Poppy Seed Vinaigrette

Vinaigrette:
1/4 c honey
1/4 c lemon juice
2 tsp chopped onion
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 c olive oil
1 Tbs poppy seeds
white pepper to taste

Salad:
1/2 c apple cider vinegar
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp agave nectar
2 red onions, sliced very thinly
1 bunch kale, chopped
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 lb carrots (various colors – purple, white, red, yellow), matchstick cut
2 avocados, pitted and diced
1/4 c dried cranberries
1 cup diced apple (optional)

To prepare vinaigrette, place all ingredients in a high speed blender and blend well.  Add pepper to taste.  Set aside or refrigerate.

To prepare the salad, start by marinating the onions.  In a medium shallow bowl, whisk together vinegar, olive oil and agave.  Add onions and toss to coat thoroughly.  Set aside for 30 minutes to marinate.  Meanwhile, place kale in a large bowl and massage with sea salt.  Rinse.  Run kale through salad spinner to remove excess water.  Toss Brussels sprouts in a bowl to separate layers.

To assembly salad, place kale, Brussels sprouts, carrots, dried cranberries and avocado in a large bowl.  Add vinaigrette, 1/4 cup at a time and toss salad.  Top salad with marinated onions and apple before serving.  Each serving can be plated using a ring mold.

Serves 8.

For the entree, we served a Sprouted Chickpea Burger with Arugula, Caramelized Onion and Fennel, Sweet Potato and Parsnip Oven Fries, Homemade Ketchup and Cashew Mayo.

And, to serve as a “milkshake” with our burger and fries, the much anticipated Orange Coconut Creamsicle.  This stuff is so rich and good that a very small serving will do.  A high speed blender is really helpful with the preparation.

Orange-Coconut Creamsicle

6 large oranges
1 13.5 oz can coconut milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
3-4 drops liquid stevia
1 pinch sea salt

1. Refrigerate the coconut milk.  Supreme the oranges over a freezer-safe bowl, catching the juice.  Squeeze any extra juice into the bowl.  Freeze the oranges and juice overnight.
2. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.  Thin with water 1 Tbs at a time if desired. Serve immediately.

Servings: 4

Our dessert was this amaaaaaazing chocolate cream pie thingy, which the recipe writer named Almost Grammy’s Chocolate Cream Mini-Pie.  They played around with this recipe a little, but I do know we added some cardamom and maybe a pinch of cayenne to the filling, so feel free to experiment!

Almost Grammy’s Chocolate Cream Mini-Pie

Equipment required:  high speed blender, food processor, mini-cheesecake pans, piping bag with decorating tip

Crust
1/4 c amaranth flour
1/4 c almond flour
1/4 c coconut flour
1/4 c potato starch
4 Tbs date sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/4 c solid coconut oil (chilled)
4 Tbs water
2 Tbs ground flax meal

Filling
1 1/2 c coconut milk cream, skimmed from the top of chilled coconut milk
1 Tbs agar agar flakes
1/2 c cocoa powder, raw and unsweetened
2 Tbs brown rice syrup
2 Tbs date sugar
2 Tbs date molasses (Middle Eastern Sylan)
1 Tbs vanilla extract
1/8 tsp sea salt

Frosting
1 1/2 c raw cashews; soaked, sprouted and drained
1/4 c coconut cream, skimmed from the top of chilled coconut milk
1/4 c fresh orange juice
2 Tbs date sugar
4 Tbs solid coconut oil, chilled
3 Tbs maple syrup
1 tsp orange zest
1/2 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
4 whole cloves, ground
2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch cardamom
pinch sea salt

Garnish
strips of orange peel
cacao nibs

Preheat oven to 350F.

[crust] Mix flax seed meal and water in a small bowl.  Set aside to thicken.

[filling] Mix 1/2 c coconut milk cream and agar agar flakes in a small sauce pan.  Set to very low heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until flakes dissolve completely.  The final mixture should have the consistency of light eggnog.

[frosting] Combine all the ingredients into a high speed blender.  Pulse and gradually increase speed until the cream is silky and thick.  You may have to use a spatula to assure all ingredients blend thoroughly.  Taste and adjust as needed, especially if orange juice isn’t very sweet.  Transfer to a container and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

[crust] Combine flours, date sugar, cinnamon and salt in a food processor fitted with a dough blade for 1 minutes.  Add coconut oil and process for approximately 2 minutes until mixture resembles coarse meal.  Add flax meal slurry and process for 1 minute more, until dough forms.  Press dough evenly into the bottom of each mini cheesecake form, about 1/4 – 1/2″ thick.  Blind bake for 15 minutes or until golden.  Set aside to cool completely.

[filling] Combine all the ingredients in blender or food processor.  Add agar agar and coconut milk mixture.  Blend until silky smooth.  Taste and balance flavor as needed.  Final mixture should have the viscosity of chocolate cake batter, but should be completely silky.

Once the crust is cooled, fill each mini cheesecake form to the brim and place in refrigerator to set for at least two hours or overnight.

To serve, remove each mini pie from the cheesecake pan and transfer to a plate.  Pipe frosting on top and garnish with orange peel and cacao nibs.

Yields: 12 mini pies

(not my hands)

Dessert, waiting for the signal to enter the dining space.  This was a great moment, because it meant we were almost done!  Except for clean up, of course.

The showcase took a lot of work.  And a lot of time.  And a lot of energy.  And it stressed us all out.  But in the end it went really well!  I definitely gained some experience in menu planning, recipe scaling and cooking in larger quantities.

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Showcase #1

The final group project of the Natural Chef Program at Bauman College is what’s called the “showcase”.  Basically, we host a catered dinner for invited guests in our classroom, and it involved a whole lot of work and planning, including decorating the classroom!  To come up with recipes, the class was divided into groups and assigned a course – I was assigned appetizers and beverages.  To be honest, I wasn’t thrilled with being assigned appetizers, but in the end I was happy with what I came up with.  We were kind of going in the direction of upscale, reinvented American classics, so that is what I went for.

Coming up with beverages other than just tea wasn’t very easy, since we were focusing on natural, whole foods.

Green Ginger Ale

Orange Coconut Creamsicle.  A picture cannot describe how good this one was.  We ended up using both of these on the menu, so I’ll share the recipes in my next post.

I tried to make tempeh wings with a homemade sugar-free buffalo sauce and cashew ranch.  Neither attempt was particularly successful, but it was fun trying!  In the second picture I went with a carrot and celery slaw rather than veggie sticks, which I thought was a neat spin on tradition.

Barbecue tempeh meatballs, which we also ended up using on the menu, so I will post the recipe next time.  These are super delicious!

Lastly, my vegan and gluten-free take on Bagel Bites.  The class liked these but thought they might be a bit too heavy for a first bite, so they didn’t end up on the menu.  I fed some to a group of football-watching boys, and they also approved.  I only tested them twice, with varied results, so I don’t guarantee the texture of the gluten-free mini bagels.  The taste, however, is great.  The “portobello pepperoni” is awesome, if I do say so myself.

Vegan & Gluten-Free Bagel Bites

Bagels
1 3/4 cups warm water (115-120°F)
1 Tbs sucanat
1 1/2 tsp dry active yeast
1 Tbs flax meal
3 Tbs warm water
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1 cup quinoa flour
2 Tbs arrowroot powder
2 tsp xantham gum
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

Portobello Pepperoni
1/4 tsp fennel seed
1/4 tsp mustard seed
1 pinch red pepper flakes
1 pinch sea salt
2 portobello mushrooms, gilled removed, cut into 1/4″ dice
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp onion powder
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp wheat-free tamari

Pizza Sauce
14.5 oz can whole peeled tomatoes, juice reserved
1 date, chopped
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/8 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp sea salt
1 pinch freshly ground black pepper

Mozzarella Sauce
5 Tbs water
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1/3 cup gluten-free oats
1/4 cup tahini
3 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1/8 tsp onion powder
1 tsp sea salt
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp xantham gum

1. Mix the 1 3/4 cups warm water, sugar and yeast in a large bowl and set aside.

2. In a small bowl, combine the flax meal and 3 Tbs warm water and whisk vigorously for 30 seconds.  Set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, combine the tapioca flour, brown rice flour, quinoa flour, arrowroot, xantham gum and salt.  Whisk to incorporate.

4. Check that the yeast has proofed – it should be slightly foamy.  If the yeast has not proofed, the water was too hot or the yeast was not alive.

5. Add the flax mixture and apple cider vinegar to the bowl with the yeast.  Add the dry mixture 1/2 cup at a time and mix well.  Incorporate as much of the dry mixture as possible working the dough with a wooden spoon, then use your hands if needed to form the dough into a ball.

6. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a damp cloth.  Let rise in a warm place for 1 hour.

7. Meanwhile, prepare the other components.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  To make the portobello pepperoni, grind the fennel seed, mustard seed, red pepper flakes and sea salt in a spice grinder.  Place the diced portobello in a medium bowl, add the ground spices and all remaining ingredients (smoked paprika through tamari) and mix well.

8. Transfer the portobello mixture to a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, stirring once.  Set aside and let cool.  Leave the oven on at 400.

9. To prepare the sauce, place all sauce ingredients (tomatoes through black pepper) in a blender and blend until smooth.  Add the reserved tomato juice 1 Tbs at a time to thin the sauce to desired consistency.  Pour into a bowl or jar and set aside.

10. Rinse the blender.  Place the 5 Tbs water, nutritional yeast, oats, tahini, lemon juice, onion powder and 1 tsp sea salt in the blender and blend until smooth.  Place the olive oil in a small bowl and whisk in the xantham gum.  Add the oil to the blender and blend together.  The mixture will thicken very quickly.  Transfer to a squeeze bottle and set aside.

11. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Check on the bagel dough – it won’t have risen very much, but it should be slightly springy when touched.  Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces.  The dough will be tacky but shouldn’t stick to your hands too much.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Shape each piece into a ball and flatten slightly.  Once the water is boiling, use a slotted spoon to place three bagels at a time in the water.  Boil for 1 minutes, flipping the bagels after 30 seconds.  Remove the bagels to the baking sheet and repeat until all bagels have been boiled.

12. Bake the bagels for 20 minutes, turning them over after 10 minutes, until the tops are starting to brown.  Remove from the oven and cool for at least 30 minutes.  Keep the oven on.

13. Carefully slice each bagel in half with a serrated knife.  Spoon some of the tomato sauce on each half.  Top with the portobello pepperoni and squeeze the cheese sauce on top.  Bake for 10 minutes and serve immediately.

Servings: 8
Yield: 24 bagel bites

Amount Per Serving
Calories 335.64
Calories From Fat (30%) 101.18
% Daily Value
Total Fat 11.72g 18%
Saturated Fat 1.43g 7%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 750.59mg 31%
Potassium 469.7mg 13%
Total Carbohydrates 47.75g 16%
Fiber 7.87g 31%
Sugar 5.53g
Protein 12.79g 26%

Comments (15)

Homework #2

For my second homework assignment at Bauman College, I was to turn in recipes for a complete meal – appetizer, soup, salad, entree with sauce and vegetable side dish.  This was a lot for me to handle at the time, so for the side dish I wrote out a recipe for simple roasted beets.  Everything else was from scratch!

Polenta Crostini with White Beans & Arugula Pesto

1 18 oz tube organic prepared polenta
olive oil spray
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 cups arugula, packed
2 Tbs parsley
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 Tbs nutritional yeast
1/4 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups cooked white beans, or 1 15-oz can, drained and rinsed
extra parsley, for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cut polenta into 12 slices.  Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray or brush with olive oil.  Place the polenta slices on the baking sheet, spray or brush the tops with olive oil and season lightly with sea salt and pepper.  Bake the polenta slices for 20 minutes, flipping and seasoning again after 10 minutes.  Broil for a few minutes if desired to brown the polenta.
3. Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts in a small skillet over medium heat for a few minutes, shaking the pan frequently, just until fragrant and lightly browned.  Remove from the heat.
4. Place the arugula, parsley, garlic, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, pine nuts, salt and a few grinds of black pepper in a food processor.  Process until finely chopped.
5. Drizzle the olive oil slowly into the food processor while running, until the pesto achieves a paste-like texture.  Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
6. Place the white beans in a skillet over medium heat.  Add the pesto, stir and cook just until heated through.
7. To serve, place three polenta crostini on a plate.  Top each round with a spoonful of the bean mixture, and garnish each crostini with a parsley leaf.

Servings: 4

Amount Per Serving
Calories 370.18
Calories From Fat (39%) 143.5
% Daily Value
Total Fat 16.6g 26%
Saturated Fat 1.9g 10%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 515.85mg 21%
Potassium 547.36mg 16%
Total Carbohydrates 43.78g 15%
Fiber 7.85g 31%
Sugar 2.07g
Protein 13.82g 28%

Acorn Squash & Caramelized Onion Soup with Wild Rice

1/2 cup wild rice
2 cups water
3 Tbs high heat sunflower oil, divided
1 large yellow onion, sliced
1 acorn squash, seeded, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 carrot, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 garlic cloves, peeled
3 cups vegetable broth
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp coriander
1 pinch cinnamon
1 pinch ground red pepper
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
paprika

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Place the wild rice and water in a pot.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 45-50 minutes until rice is tender.
3. Heat 1 Tbs of the sunflower oil in a large pot.  Turn heat to low, add onions and stir to coat.  Cook for 30 minutes or more, stirring occasionally, until caramelized.
4. Meanwhile, coat the squash, carrot and garlic cloves with 2 Tbs sunflower oil and place in a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Roast for 25 minutes, stirring once after 15 minutes.  Set aside to cool.
5. Put half of the roasted vegetables, all of the onions and half of the broth in the blender and blend until smooth.  Pour the mixture into the pot used to cook the onions.
6. Put the rest of the vegetables and broth, the spices and a generous pinch of salt in the blender and blend until smooth.  Add to the soup in the pot.  Cook the soup over low heat until heated through, stirring often.  Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
7. To serve, ladle soup into bowls.  Spoon wild rice into the center and garnish with paprika.

Servings: 4

Amount Per Serving
Calories 231.68
Calories From Fat (41%) 94.3
% Daily Value
Total Fat 10.69g 16%
Saturated Fat 1.17g 6%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 23.95mg <1%
Potassium 584.61mg 17%
Total Carbohydrates 32.29g 11%
Fiber 4.13g 17%
Sugar 2.83g
Protein 4.55g 9%

Broccoli & Apple Salad with Tahini Dressing

1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 Tbs apple cider vinegar, divided
1 bunch broccoli (3-4 stalks), cut into florets and stalks saved for another purpose
1 medium apple, cored and diced
1/4 cup tahini
1 Tbs lemon juice
1 Tbs tamari
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 pinch freshly ground black pepper

1. Place the sliced red onion in a small bowl and add 1 Tbs of the apple cider vinegar.  Add water to cover, stir and set aside.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and have a bowl of ice water ready.  Submerge the broccoli florets into the boiling water for 90 seconds.  Drain the broccoli and plunge into the ice water.  Once cool, drain the broccoli again.
3. Whisk the remaining ingredients (including 1 Tbs apple cider vinegar) in a small bowl.  The dressing will be thick.
4. Drain the sliced onion.  Place the broccoli, onion and apple in a large bowl.  Pour the dressing over the salad and mix well.  The dressing will thin out when mixed with the water remaining on the broccoli.

Servings: 4

Amount Per Serving
Calories 132.84
Calories From Fat (47%) 63.05
% Daily Value
Total Fat 7.54g 12%
Saturated Fat 1.06g 5%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 400.03mg 17%
Potassium 347.51mg 10%
Total Carbohydrates 14.33g 5%
Fiber 2.57g 10%
Sugar 3.78g
Protein 5.55g 11%

Braised Tempeh with Garlic-Peppercorn Smashed Potatoes & Orange-Vanilla-Fennel Sauce

1 Tbs virgin coconut oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 bulb fennel, quartered, cored and sliced, fronds reserved for garnish
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups vegetable broth
1 lb tempeh
1 orange, supremed, juices reserved
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 Tbs nutritional yeast

Garlic-Peppercorn Smashed Potatoes:
4 medium potatoes, unpeeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp peppercorns, crushed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 Tbs nutritional yeast
sea salt

1. Heat the coconut oil in a large, wide skillet over medium heat.  Add the onions and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add the fennel and saute for 4 minutes, stirring often.  The onions should be starting to brown slightly.  Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Be careful not to burn the garlic.
2. While the vegetables are cooking, slice the tempeh in half so that you have two thinner pieces of the same size.  Cut these halves into four rectangles, then those rectangles into triangles so that you have 16 pieces.
3. Deglaze the pan with 1 cup of the broth, scraping up all of the vegetables.  Add the remaining 3 cups of broth and 1/2 tsp salt, turn the heat up to medium-high and bring to a boil.
4. Add the tempeh to the pan, submerging in the liquid as much as possible.  Turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes.
5. With a slotted spoon, remove the tempeh to a plate and keep warm.
6. Transfer the broth/vegetable mixture to a blender and add the orange segments and juice and vanilla extract.  Place a towel over the top of the blender and hold with one hand.  Blend until smooth.
7. Carefully remove the top of the blender, as steam will escape.  Wipe the pan clean with a paper towel if necessary, then pour the mixture back into the pan.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium-low.  Simmer, stirring frequently, until reduced to a saucy consistency.  Remove from the heat and stir in nutritional yeast.  Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.
8. To make the smashed potatoes, place the potatoes in a pot, cover with water and add a generous pinch of salt.  Bring to a boil at medium-high heat and cook for 15 minutes, or until potatoes are easily pierced with a fork.  Drain.  In a small pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the garlic and peppercorns, swirl the oil to combine and cook for 1 minute, shaking and swirling the pan often.  Be careful not to burn the garlic.  Add the oil mixture, almond milk, nutritional yeast and a pinch of sea salt to the potatoes and mash, leaving the potatoes slightly chunky.  Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.
9. To serve, mound the potatoes in the center of each plate.  Spoon the sauce around the potatoes, lean four pieces of tempeh up against the potatoes and garnish with fennel fronds.

Servings: 4

Amount Per Serving
Calories 512.86
Calories From Fat (32%) 161.99
% Daily Value
Total Fat 19.12g 29%
Saturated Fat 5.91g 30%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 311.11mg 13%
Potassium 1748.73mg 50%
Total Carbohydrates 63.3g 21%
Fiber 9.38g 38%
Sugar 6.03g
Protein 29.72g 59%

Overall, this “meal” was much too large for me – I split it into two evenings.  I thought the recipes turned out really well though.

Before school started, I had decided that I would leave my camera at home and not bother trying to get pictures of stuff that we cooked there.  Lucky for us, one of my classmates has been documenting everything, so I though I’d share some of the dishes we made during the second module.

Soups class – Curried Red Lentil Stew

Mexican Chilled Avocado Soup with Sweet Corn Salsa

Tempeh and Wild Mushroom Stew

Sauces class, an array of sauces!  I worked on an adobo sauce.

During salads class I made this Mixed Green Salad with Smoky Shiitakes and Raw Ranch Dressing.  It was really flippin’ good.

Appetizers and Garnishes class – Polenta and Wild Mushroom Crostini with Balsamic Reduction

Spring Rolls with Almond Dipping Sauce

Tempeh Meatball Skewers with Barbecue Glaze.  It was harder to get them to stick together without gluten flour, but they worked!

Greens and Vegetables class – This was a really good Steamed Baby Artichoke Salad with Spiralized Beets and Herb Dressing.

Each week two people worked on an improvisational dish.  My partner and I made this “yin and yang” soup when we were given a butternut squash and celeriac to work with.

More to come soon!

Comments (9)

Happy Thanksgiving!

…Even though it’s two days after Thanksgiving now.  Happy four day weekend!  I’ve been taking the opportunity to sleep in and take care of business.

This year, for the first time, Dave and I decided to stay home for Thanksgiving.  We invited our friends Tom and Hope over and had a nice, intimate, huge feast.  I even decorated the table like a real adult.

And made a centerpiece, Martha Stewart-style.

We started with appetizers.  This is the Walnut Mushroom Pate from Veganomicon with some crackers, carrot sticks and peppadews (mild pickled peppers).  Tom and Hope’s dog Lucy also came over and I had forgot that she really loves to eat carrots, so that was a nice treat for her.

Since we were sitting down to a real dinner, I included soup and salad on the menu.  For the soup I wanted to keep the flavors simple and express my new found love for cardamom.

Roasted Butternut Squash & Orange Soup with Pistachio Dust

1 large butternut squash (3-4 lbs), peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 large shallots, quartered
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2 Tbs virgin coconut oil, melted
3 cups vegetable broth
1 large orange, zested and supremed
2 Tbs orange liqueur (optional)
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/8 tsp cumin
1-2 pinches cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp sea salt
5-6 grinds freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup shelled pistachios, lightly toasted
2 fresh sage leaves, minced

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or foil.  Divide the squash, shallots and garlic among the pans, add 1 Tbs of melted coconut oil to each pan and stir to coat the vegetables.  Roast for 45 minutes, stirring once halfway through.  Allow to cool slightly.
2. Place half of the vegetables in a blender, add half of the broth and blend until smooth.  Pour into a large pot.  Place the remaining vegetables and broth in the blender and add the orange segments, orange liqueur, cardamom, cumin, cayenne, salt and pepper.  Blend until smooth and add to the pot.  Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.
3. Heat the soup gently over medium heat, stirring often and turning down the heat if it starts bubbling.
4. Meanwhile, place the pistachios in a food processor and process into the size of fine breadcrumbs.  Add the sage and 1 tsp orange zest and pulse to combine.
5. To serve, ladle the warm soup into bowls and top with the pistachio dust.

Servings: 6

Amount Per Serving
Calories 365.04
Calories From Fat (23%) 82.37
% Daily Value
Total Fat 9.73g 15%
Saturated Fat 4.65g 23%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 185.43mg 8%
Potassium 1661.7mg 47%
Total Carbohydrates 66.3g 22%
Fiber 7.74g 31%
Sugar 9.44g
Protein 8.82g 18%

Our salad was the Roasted Fennel and Hazelnut Salad with Shallot Dressing from Veganomicon.  I first made this a few weeks ago and couldn’t find the chicory it called for, so I had it with mixed greens and butter lettuce, and after trying it with chicory I have to say that the bitter greens make all the difference in balancing the sweet elements of the salad.  I also learned that I like whole hazelnuts.  Delicious!

I didn’t want to hold my fellow diners up, so I didn’t get pictures of all the individual dishes.  Here is my plate.

For my “main” I had a chickpea cutlet from the freezer with some cranberry sauce that Hope brought.  The roasted brussels sprouts are this recipe, chosen because I found out that neither Tom nor Hope likes brussels, and I was determined to show them that they’re good.  They both tried them and said they’re okay, but they’re still not brussels fans.  I can try, no?

These rolls are the Homestyle Potato Rolls fromVeganomicon.  Yes, I relied heavily on Veganomicon for our meal.  It’s a great cookbook filled with a lot of fall-appropriate recipes.  Anywho, the bread dough was really nice and easy to work with, and it expanded even while in the fridge overnight.  I served the bread with some herbed butter.  I mean, herbed Earth Balance.

Dave requested chunky mashed potatoes with the skins, and lots of them so he could have leftovers.  I added a bunch of Earth balance, almond milk, truffle salt and black pepper to get ‘em tasting good.  Everyone else enjoyed turkey gravy, but I came up with this red wine gravy as my contribution.  It’s not the best looking color of gravy, but it tastes quite nice.

Red Wine Gravy

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup vegetable broth, at room temperature
1/2 cup almond milk, at room temperature
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 Tbs tamari
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbs nutritional yeast

1. Heat a medium pot over medium heat and add the olive oil.  Sprinkle the flour into the pot and whisk immediately to make a smooth paste.  Cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently.  Add the broth, milk, wine and tamari and turn up the heat to medium-high.  Bring to a boil and cook, stirring frequently, until thickened.  Turn the heat down if the gravy is bubbling too much.  Add sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the nutritional yeast.  Serve hot.

Servings: 8

Amount Per Serving
Calories 102.56
Calories From Fat (61%) 63.06
% Daily Value
Total Fat 7.15g 11%
Saturated Fat 0.94g 5%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 262.38mg 11%
Potassium 44.39mg 1%
Total Carbohydrates 5.03g 2%
Fiber 0.87g 3%
Sugar 0.18g
Protein 2.28g 5%

And of course, I had to make green bean casserole.  It’s my quintessential Thanksgiving dish.  Dave said that the ones I had made in the past were good but could have more flavor, so I set out to create my own version, and I have to say that it was probably the best green bean casserole I’ve ever had.  I wanted to make everything from scratch instead of using store bought fried onions, and I tried to inject as much flavor as possible at every step.

Green Bean Casserole

1 1/2 lbs green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 lb mixed wild mushrooms, diced (I used chanterelle, oyster and shiitake)
6 Tbs high heat sunflower oil, divided
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp fresh thyme, minced
1 large shallot, minced
5 Tbs all purpose flour, divided
1 cup vegetable broth, at room temperature
1 cup almond milk, at room temperature
2 Tbs sherry
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 small onion, thinly sliced

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Place the green beans in a steamer over simmering water and steam for 20 minutes, until beans are tender.  Set aside.
3. Meanwhile, heat a large pan over medium heat and add 1 Tbs of the oil.  Add the garlic and thyme and saute for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.  Add the mushrooms and continue to cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.  Set aside.
4. Place a small pot over medium heat and add 3 Tbs of the oil.  Add the shallots and cook for 5 minutes, until they are starting to turn translucent.  Add 3 Tbs of the flour and whisk to form a smooth paste.  Cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.  Add the vegetable broth and whisk to combine.  Turn the heat up to medium-high and bring to a boil, whisking frequently.  Once the sauce has thickened slightly, add the milk and sherry and continue to cook, whisking frequently, until thickened.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Combine the green beans, mushroom mixture and sauce in a baking dish.
5. Combine the sliced onion and 2 Tbs flour in a bowl and toss with your hands to coat.  Heat a medium pan over medium-high heat and add the remaining 2 Tbs of oil.  Add the onions and any remaining flour to the pan, stir to combine and cook until most of the onions have browned, stirring frequently.  Pour the onions on top of the green bean mixture and spread evenly.
6. Bake uncovered for 15 minutes and serve hot.

Servings: 8

Amount Per Serving
Calories 192
Calories From Fat (50%) 96.94
% Daily Value
Total Fat 10.97g 17%
Saturated Fat 1.12g 6%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 30.35mg 1%
Potassium 497.72mg 14%
Total Carbohydrates 20.21g 7%
Fiber 2.73g 11%
Sugar 2.26g
Protein 4.85g 10%

For dessert, I attempted to veganize the Cranberry Upside Down Cake from the latest issue of Eating Well magazine.

It tasted alright, but it refused to upside-down itself from my cast iron pan, so we had it rightside-up.  That’s what I get for making the recipe the first time that day.

We ate, we chatted, we had some wine and Dogfishhead Chicory Stout, and we watched Elf.  I hope you had a great Thanksgiving!

Comments (14)

Birthday Party Foods

Every year for my birthday I have friends over to my place for a little shindig, and this year was a good one.  Friends showed up in force, everyone had a good time (I think), and a cop came by to give up a noise warning!  You know it’s a good party when the 5-0 arrive.  Nevermind the fact that we weren’t being very loud, spent the majority of the party playing board games, and are all well over the legal drinking age…we’re a wild bunch, really.  And while I never expect any presents, I received gifts including a couple bottles of nice wine, some Jameison, and My Sweet Vegan!

My friends made my week by showing me a good time, so the least I could do was feed them.  Please excuse the flash photography, the pictures were snapped fast since people were already over and eyeballing the food.

VWAV Spanakopita in phyllo cups.

spanakopita

Lettuce wrap bar.  Not everyone got the lettuce wrap concept, which is fine because a) I thought it up last minute and had never done it before, b) the lettuce I bought wasn’t as cup-like as anticipated, and c) all the fillings worked just as well on their own.  The recipes for all of the fillings are at the end.

lettuce wraps

Pea Salad.

pea salad

Sesame Ginger Mushrooms.

mushrooms

Savory Carrot Salad (the dressing on this was so good, it’s going to be my go-to balsamic vinaigrette).

carrot salad

Veggies, Stacy’s Pita Chips and Pretzel Chips.  If you haven’t had Stacy’s Pita Chips yet, get them.  Unless you don’t feel like being tempted to eat the whole bag at once.

veggies

A trio of dips, starting with Black Bean Dip with Cilantro & Lime.  I wasn’t impressed with this, so no recipe.  Although everyone seemed to like it okay.  I can do better.

black bean dip

VCON Curried Carrot Dip.  This was really good, but I almost wanted it to be made from sweet potato or squash instead, because that’s what it tasted like.

carrot dip

Roasted Eggplant & Garlic Hummus from Yellow Rose Recipes.  This flew off the shelves like gangbusters.  I had to put out seconds, and it was all demolished.  And just as easy to make as normal hummus, with one extra step.  Get YRR and make this.

eggplant hummus

And the piece de resistance, the birthday cake I made for myself, as all good vegans do.  It’s based on Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked ice cream.  Two vanilla layers studded with cookie dough, and a brownie layer, iced with buttercream.  I didn’t get to decorate it like I wanted, mostly because I was short on time but also because I didn’t make enough frosting.  Extra cookie dough balls did the trick.

half baked cake

Money shot.

half baked cake

And my piece, cut bigger than everyone elses.  I could only eat half at first, had to save the rest for later.

half baked cake

If I make this again the only change will be to try to make the cookie dough pieces inside the cake smaller, so they disperse more.  The Brooklyn Brownie, Golden Agave, and Buttercream recipes are from VCTOTW, cookie dough from VWAV.

The recipes:

Savory Carrot Salad

4-5 carrots, shredded
2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
2 Tbs olive oil
2 tsp dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp maple syrup
dashes of salt & pepper

Whisk all ingredients except carrots together until emulsified. Pour over carrots and stir to combine.

Serves 4.

Pea Salad

3 cups frozen peas, thawed
1/4 cup celery, finely diced
2 Tbs onion, finely chopped
2 Tbs each green bell pepper and red bell pepper, finely chopped
3-4 Tbs vegan mayonnaise
2 Tbs relish
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp paprika

Combine all ingredients, chill before serving.

Serves 4.

Sesame Ginger Mushrooms

I made these without soy since a friend is allergic, but 1-2 Tbs soy sauce added to the marinade would be good.

4 cups assorted mushrooms, sliced (I used button, shiitake & portobello)
1 cup vegetable stock or water
1/3 cup cooking sherry
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp minced garlic
1 Tbs minced ginger
2 Tbs sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
olive oil spray
1 heaping Tbs cornstarch
thinly sliced scallions
toasted sesame seeds

1. Whisk together the water, sherry, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, sugar, salt, dry mustard and red pepper flakes. Pour over mushrooms, cover, and marinate at least one hour, up to overnight.
2. Spray a medium saute pan with olive oil and heat to medium high. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the mushrooms to the pan, reserving the marinade. Saute the mushrooms, stirring occasionally, until they have released their juices, the liquid evaporates and the mushrooms are tender. If the mushrooms start to stick, add a small amount of water to the pan.
3. Meanwhile, add the cornstarch to the reserved marinade and whisk to combine.
4. When the mushrooms are cooked, add the marinade to the pan. Continue to cook, stirring often, until the marinade is thickened.
5. Sprinkle with scallions and sesame seeds.

Serves 4-6.

And for those of you who’ve made it through the whole post, here’s an adorable picture of bf being a sad clown.

sad clown

Comments (19)

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