Posts Tagged mushrooms

VeganMoFo: One Feast to Rule Them All

VeganMoFo 2013 has come to an end!  I didn’t reach my goal of posting every weekday, but I did make 19 posts which is great considering how sporadic my blogging has been the past two years.

Dave and I are kind of nerds when it comes to how much we like watching movies.  We’ve been talking for a while about holding a Harry Potter marathon, where we watch all the movies in one day back to back.  This would take about twenty hours and we’d like to wait until the weather is cooler, so as a test run we decided to have a Lord of the Rings marathon with a few friends.  We originally intended to just make a bunch of easy food that we could eat all day in order to relax, but of course I had to get all intense about it and decided that we’d eat the way hobbits do, which is many, many meals a day!

“And laugh they did, and eat, and drink, often and heartily, being fond of simple jests at all times, and of six meals a day (when they could get them).”  The Fellowship of the Ring, Prologue, J.R.R. Tolkien

In the movies it’s seven meals.  I thought we wouldn’t need supper and dinner after a full day of eating and lazing, so we stuck with six.  I found this post incredibly useful in planning the timing of the movies and meals, and this fan fiction post on meal etiquette helped us figure out what to actually serve for each meal.  In the interest of not being in the kitchen all day, we chose a lot of foods that could be made ahead of time and reheated or served cold.

Here’s the schedule we aimed for, although everything ended up running a little later.  We let the credits roll for bathroom and fresh air breaks, and only took real breaks for lunch and supper so that we could eat at the dining table.

8:30 – The Fellowship of the Ring
noon – The Two Towers
4:00 – The Return of the King

8:30 – Breakfast
9:45 – Second Breakfast
11:15 -Elevenses
1:00 – Lunch
3:45 – Afternoon Tea
6:00 – Supper

Our friends brought over their super awesome Salvation Army find, two authentic Lord of the Rings goblets!  The Arwen glass held my OJ, and later, beer.

Breakfast was Cinnamon Roll Baked Oatmeal from Chocolate Covered Katie, baked in muffin cups for easy serving.  Rather than frosting, I thought Stewed Apples would be a nice, light topping to start with.  I wasn’t sure how the healthy, vegan baked oatmeal would go over, but everyone seemed to like it!

For Second Breakfast, Dave made everyone else egg and cheese casserole and sausages, so here is my version.  I made a variation of the Shiitake Dill Frittata from Vegan Brunch, swapping the shiitakes out for criminis, subbing chives, parsley and tarragon for the dill, and adding Daiya cheddar shreds.  The sausages are Vegan Dad’s Breakfast Sausages, which I like very much and now have a freezer full of.  The toast was made from a country style wheat loaf, with boysenberry jam.

You know we had to have some Lembas bread for Elevenses!  I veganized this recipe, adding some almond extract and chopped toasted almonds, since my extensive internet research suggested it was a good idea.  It turned out a little dry and plain, but good enough to eat, which was kind of exactly the point.  We also served Earl Grey tea and non-vegan chocolate biscuits.

Lunch was a picnicky affair, a build-your-own-plate type of meal.  In the Lazy Susan is heirloom tomatoes, canned beet slices, olives, marinated mushrooms, dill pickles, and two types of mustard.  Accompanied by potato salad with mustard vinaigrette, Black Forest Rye bread, and a green salad with balsamic vinaigrette.  Dave and our guests also had a platter of cold cuts and cheeses.

I had open-faced sandwiches with Tofurky roast beef slices and Daiya swiss.  I really enjoyed this meal, there were lots of different flavors and the dressings on the salads were very tasty.  It was very filling while still feeling light.

Etiquette dictated that we serve something sweet after lunch but we didn’t want it to be heavy since we still had one and a half movies and two meals to get through.  These fresh strawberries were nice with cool whipped coconut cream.

Afternoon Tea was a particularly special affair with a real life fancy tea set purchased last minute from Goodwill.

Tea sandwiches and scones seemed like the only appropriate food for high tea!  Dave wasn’t sold on the tea sandwiches, but they turned out really well – cucumber and Tofutti cream cheese or radishes and Earth Balance on white bread.  They would’ve been perfect if I had sprinkled on a bit of salt while assembling.

The scones were lemon poppyseed, adapted from my scone recipe and cut into mini scones.  I added lemon zest, subbed fresh lemon juice for some of the liquid, and used baking soda in place of some of the baking powder.

None of us were hungry when it came time for dinner, but we forged ahead in the name of The King!

Dinner started with vegetable barley soup that had been simmering all day, and actually simmered a bit too long.  It tasted good but the vegetables were definitely overcooked.

The main course was chicken (Gardein for me), mushrooms slow cooked in garlic and white wine, braised cabbage and kale, roasted root vegetables, and corn on the cob.

For dessert, I made a warm Blueberry-Blackberry Tart served with vanilla ice cream.  The crust turned out a little tough, but that was probably my fault.  I’m not that great with pie crust.  The filling was really good though, and it was a nice end to our gluttonous day.

Yes, we ate all that food in one day!  We finally finished the last disc after 10PM, and everyone pretty much went straight to bed.  It was actually exhausting watching movies all day.  I have to say that watching them all in a row made me appreciate them even more, including appreciation for my crush on Viggo Mortensen’s Aragorn…

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VeganMoFo: Food Fit for the Playoffs

Growing up, I wasn’t a fan of any NFL team.  The closest teams (the Bucs and Jags) were an hour and a half away each, and we were just much more into college football.  (Go Gators!)  That all changed when I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area with Dave and adopted his team, the Forty Niners.  Now I consider myself a diehard fan!

The Niners had a great run last year that ended with two playoff games and a Super Bowl berth.  We celebrated properly for each game, having friends over and making lots of food.

For the first playoff game against the Packers, we went with a San Francisco staple and Dave made cioppino.  I wanted delicious soup as well, so I made this Mixed Mushroom Soup from 101 Cookbooks.  I’m not a huge barley fan, so I used wild rice instead.  For such a simple recipe, it was really complex and delicious.  We served the soups with sourdough bread.

For a special treat, I made marbled cupcakes that were supposed to be red and yellow, with red frosting.  The color didn’t turn out so well, but the game did!  Niners won and advanced to the NFC Championship game against the Falcons.

I think our food theme for the day was small foods, although I can’t remember why now.  These taco cups turned out really well.  I cut circles out of flour tortillas, pressed them into muffin tins, and baked until crispy.  I then layered in vegan chorizo, refried beans, and Daiya cheddar shreds and baked again until melted.  Topped with shredded lettuce and tomato, they were delicious!

I roasted some red and yellow beets, just to have some red and yellow food.

For dessert, mini double chocolate muffins with local Ghirardelli.

For the Super Bowl, we went with typical Super Bowl party foods.

I put together a red and yellow veggie tray with agave mustard dressing and salsa.

I was seeing a lot of buffalo dips around the internet at the time, and found many versions of buffalo chickpea dip.  I went with this cashew and bean-based version, which seemed at least a little healthier than the others.

The dip turned out to be really tasty, perfect with carrot and celery sticks.  The one thing I didn’t like is that the chickpeas were really chunky compared to the creamy dip, so next time I would chop them up a bit for better distribution.

Lastly, I made my previously undefeated cookie cake.  I also made cookie cakes for the Packers and Giants most recent Super Bowl wins, so I was two for two.  I would like to think that the horrible attempt at red icing and the fact that I forgot the red part around the inside of the S didn’t have anything to do with the fact that the Niners unfortunately lost, ending what was an unexpectedly fantastic season.

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VeganMoFo: Semi-Wordless Wednesday

Polenta Rancheros from Vegan Brunch

Tamarind BBQ Tempeh & Sweet Potatoes from Appetite for Reduction

Goddess Nicoise Salad from Appetite for Reduction

Tempeh Pot au Feu from Vegan on the Cheap

Brussels Sprout-Potato Hash from Appetite for Reduction with leek & dill quinoa

potatoes with pumpkin-cheese sauce, bacon bits and green onion

Thai Roasted Root Vegetable Curry from Appetite for Reduction

Creamy Picatta Pasta, roasted vegetables & swiss chard

Kidney Bean & Sweet Potato Jamba Stew from Appetite for Reduction

Ye’abesha Gomen, Mushroom Tibs, and Ethiopian Millet from Appetite for Reduction

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Review: The Dairy-Free & Gluten-Free Kitchen

When I was offered a copy of The Dairy-Free & Gluten-Free Kitchen for review, I wasn’t sure if I should accept.  It’s not a vegan book, not even vegetarian, and even though the recipes were dairy-free they could still contain eggs, which can be hard to replace in gluten-free recipes.  I looked into the author, Denise Jardine, and found out that she lives in the Bay Area and has worked at Whole Foods as a Healthy Eating Specialist.  And, I figured the publisher wouldn’t offer me a copy unless they thought I’d like it, so I signed on.

And I’m glad I did!  I don’t need to eat gluten-free, but I do sometimes coincidentally by eating a whole food vegan diet, and I certainly sympathize with those who do need to eschew gluten for medical reasons.  The Dairy-Free & Gluten-Free Kitchen is a great book to show anyone who might be worried about cutting out gluten that it can be done.  There is a chapter on basics like gluten-free flour mix, milk alternatives, beans and whole grains, and other sections for breakfast, small bites, salads and dressings, soups, vegetarian and companion dishes, sauces and spreads, yeasted and quick breads, sweet endings, and meat and fish dishes.  Vegetarians beware – there are pictures of meat and fish dishes sprinkled throughout those sections.

The first dish that caught my eye was Oyster Mushrooms Rockefeller.  For some reason I assumed the recipe wouldn’t be vegetarian, but it was completely vegan as written!  To turn it into a meal, I also made the Spicy Roasted Cauliflower.

The Oysters Mushrooms Rockefeller was really interesting and tasty.  You layer oyster mushrooms, wilted spinach and seasoned gluten-free bread crumbs, then top it off with a cashew cream.  The recipe calls for making bread crumbs from homemade gluten-free bread, but I had some store bought gf bread in the freezer so I just used that.

While the flavor of the overall dish was fantastic, I would change up the method a bit next time.  The mushrooms and spinach go in basically unseasoned, then the very flavorful bread crumb mixture went on top, so unless you got a bite with every layer it was a little unbalanced.  I would add a pinch of salt to the mushrooms and spinach, and maybe mix some of the breadcrumbs through, and then I think it would be really outstanding.

The Spicy Roasted Cauliflower was good, and also included carrots, potato and onion.  It was a basic roasted vegetable dish with curry powder and other spices, with some gf bread crumbs tossed in for crunch.

Next I wanted to veganize one of the meat dishes, since I figured it was a shame to skip over two whole chapters.  I chose the first recipe listed, Poached Cod Over Glass Noodles, because it sounded really healthy and flavorful.  My plan was to substitute tofu, although I wasn’t sure how well braised tofu would work out.

The answer is that braised tofu can be amazing.  You can’t really tell from the picture, but this tofu was so flavorful.  The broth was hearty, sweet, sour and pungent, with flavors from tomatoes, date syrup, lemongrass and ginger.  The bean thread noodles were a great textural complement, and while the bok choy was tricky to cut into, it made for a nice presentation.

I figured in order to do the book justice, I ought to try one of the breads using the gluten-free flour mix.  Many of the bread recipes do have eggs, so I attempted to veganize the Sweet Potato Cornbread.  I rounded out the meal with the Spicy Green Smoothie and the Sweet and Tangy Jicama Slaw.

I served the Spicy Green Smoothie as a cold soup, which worked out nicely.  It was light, refreshing and spicy, but also smooth from avocado.  The Jicama Slaw was crunchy and tasty, with cabbage, carrot, red bell pepper and a dairy-free mayonnaise based dressing.  I wouldn’t really say that I got the “sweet and tangy” part though, I thought the dressing could’ve been a little more flavorful.  Maybe it just seemed that way because I was having it with the spicy smoothie though.

The Sweet Potato Cornbread worked out pretty well, considering it was gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free AND sugar-free.  Right after baking it was pretty squishy and had a soft, dense texture, but after sitting overnight it firmed up a bit and felt more like “normal” cornbread.

Even though it’s not a vegan cookbook, I’m happy to have The Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free Kitchen in my arsenal.  While some of the recipes are quite basic (I don’t think you need a recipe to make gf French toast if you know that gf bread exists), some of the recipes are really interesting and quite delicious.  I would definitely recommend the book to anyone seeking whole foods based dairy-free and gluten-free recipes.

Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of this book for review purposes.  The words, opinions and photos here are entirely my own.

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Christmas with Candle 79

Candle 79 is one of those “dream” vegan restaurants…one that you absolutely don’t miss if you have the chance to eat there.  Sadly, I haven’t had the opportunity to visit Candle 79 myself, and I have no plans to travel to New York in the near future.  However, with the Candle 79 Cookbook, everyone has the chance to experience their food!

The cookbook is a large hardback volume with gorgeous color photos and delectable sounding recipes.  Including appetizers, soups, salads, entrees, sides, sauces, brunch, desserts and drinks, there are plenty of different types of dishes to try.  What first caught my attention about this book is that it is high end, yet it doesn’t call for expensive ingredients or crazy techniques.  It’s just good cooking methods mixed with quality ingredients and interesting flavor profiles, resulting in delicious food.

I received the cookbook just before Christmas, which seemed like a great time to try out a few recipes.  We had a few friends over for Christmas dinner, and Dave made steak for their entree.  I wanted to prepare some sort of vegetable side dish, and the Wild Mushroom and Cipollini Salad with Fresh Horseradish Dressing seemed like a perfect match.

The salad starts by roasting the onions and sauteing the mushrooms.  I couldn’t find cipollini onions, so I used small sweet onions instead.  The flavorful and creamy horseradish dressing calls for sauteed shallot, horseradish, silken tofu, white wine vinegar and olive oil.  It was a perfect, rich and spicy counterpart to the fresh arugula and cherry tomatoes.  The recipe calls for pre-mixing and plating the salad, but I chose to serve it buffet style so that everyone could choose the quantity of ingredients.

The dressing also made a nice sauce for my entree, which was Gardein Beefless Tips.

After Christmas, I went to visit my family for a vacation in Anna Maria Island, Florida.  I wanted to cook a nice big fancy meal for them as a gift, making interesting vegan food that wouldn’t scare my brother away.  I chose the Moroccan-Spiced Chickpea Cakes with Red Bell Pepper-Curry Sauce and Apricot Chutney as the entree.

(The only plates at the rental house were bright red!)

Upon searching for images of this dish online, I found out that at the restaurant they serve the cake on top of a round of vegetables, so that is what I did.  The base is Red Bell Pepper-Curry Sauce, which includes coconut milk, onion, tomato paste, cilantro and spices.  The sauce was very tasty, but personally I could’ve used a little more spice.  I roasted the cauliflower very simply with olive oil and salt, and even my self-professed cauliflower-hating brother liked it.  To make the cakes, you combine chickpeas, onion, celery, flour and spices, including Old Bay.  I didn’t have access to a food processor, so I just mashed everything up with a fork.  My cakes were probably a little more chunky than they’re intended to be, but they held together fine.  The apricot chutney toed the line between savory and sweet, with onion, ginger and agave nectar.  It was decidedly not apricot season, so I bought dried apricots and reconstituted them in hot water.  To top it all off, you sprinkle on some toasted slivered almonds, which provided a nice texture contrast.

This dish was a little bit of work, and it’s definitely not weeknight meal material, but I would make it again for company or a fancy dinner at home.

I wanted to try one more recipe, and I got some really nice avocados in my recent CSA delivery, so I chose the Stuffed Avocado with Quinoa Pilaf and Chipotle-Avocado Dressing.  I’m watching my fat intake, so the stuffed avocado half became more of an avocado sliver, but this dish was delicious regardless.  The recipe is technically a salad and calls for mixed greens as the base, but I had kale in the fridge and steamed it to use instead.  This turned out to be a good decision, because the kale stood up well to the somewhat heavily dressed quinoa pilaf.  The pilaf incorporates corn, bell pepper, carrot, scallions and parsley, and you mix it with the dressing of  shallot, cilantro, guajillo chile, chipotle chile powder, white wine vinegar and even more avocado.  The dressing was very strong in flavor, but didn’t overpower the vegetables, and radish and hemp seeds were nice fresh toppings.  Plus, now I have chipotle chili powder in the pantry and I want to put it in everything.

Overall, I’m very impressed with the recipes in the Candle 79 Cookbook.  The recipes are well written, and range from simple to complex, so there’s something for everyone.  Some recipes that I hope to try in the future are Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with Crispy Sage Leaves,  Kale, Vegetable, and Spelt Berry Salad with Chive Vinaigrette, the famous Seitan Picatta, and Chile-Grilled Tofu with Avocado-Tomatillo Sauce.

Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of this book for review purposes.  The words, opinions and photos here are entirely my own.

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VeganMoFo: Flavor Bible Week – Mushrooms

My second ingredient for Flavor Bible Week is mushrooms, specifically shiitakes, from page 228.  The flavor matches that jumped out at me were bacon, celery root, lemongrass, onion and soy sauce.  Another flavor match listed was soup, so that is what I made.

If you’ve never cooked with celery root (aka celeriac), give it a try!  Once you get past the nubby exterior it’s easy to work with.  Celery root lives up to its name; it tastes like celery but feels like a root vegetable.

Celeriac & Caramelized Onion Soup with Lemon grass and Shiitake Bacon

The lemon grass and onion highlight the creamy celeriac soup, while the shiitake bacon is the real star.  This recipe gives you enough mushrooms to have a piece with almost every bite.  The shiitake bacon method is borrowed from the Bauman College cookbook.

1 Tbs olive oil
large sweet onion, halved and sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
2 lbs celeriac, peeled and diced into 1 inch cubes
4 cups vegetable broth or water
stalk lemon grass, smashed and cut into 6-inch pieces
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
dash salt, or more to taste
dash ground white pepper
1/4 lb shiitake mushrooms, sliced very thinly
1 Tbs coconut oil, melted
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1 Tbs tamari

1. Preheat the oven to 375 F.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add the onion, stir to coat, and turn the heat down to medium-low.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes, until caramelized and slightly browned.  Watch to make sure the onions don’t burn or get too dry.
3. Turn up the heat to medium high.  Add the garlic and poultry seasoning and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes, until fragrant.
4. Add the celeriac, vegetable broth or water and lemon grass.  Cover, turn the heat up and bring to a boil.
5. Turn the heat down to medium and simmer 20 minutes, covered, until celeriac is easily pierced by a fork.
6. Meanwhile, combine the shiitakes, coconut oil, smoked paprika and tamari.  Spread out on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Bake for 20-30 minutes, flipping the mushrooms once after 15 minutes.  If smaller pieces start to burn, remove them to a plate as needed.
7. Remove the lemon grass pieces from the pot.  Transfer the soup to a blender, in batches if necessary.  Add the almond milk, salt and white pepper and blend until smooth.  Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
8. Divide the soup among four bowls and top with the mushrooms.  Serve hot.

Servings: 4

Amount Per Serving
Calories 288.88
Calories From Fat (26%) 75.72
% Daily Value
Total Fat 8.7g 13%
Saturated Fat 3.72g 19%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 526.39mg 22%
Potassium 1281.21mg 37%
Total Carbohydrates 50.92g 17%
Fiber 8.48g 34%
Sugar 8.52g
Protein 7.64g 15%

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VeganMoFo: The Great American Detox Diet

Alex Jamieson, author of The Great American Detox Diet, was Morgan Spurlock’s girlfriend at the time he filmed Super Size Me (now his wife).  She allowed him to eat nothing but McDonald’s for thirty days straight on the condition that she could put him on a detox afterward, and this was the basis for her book.

I bought The Great American Detox Diet hoping that it would have lots of healthy recipes to try, and it partially delivered.  The first two thirds of the book explain why we need to detox and how to do it, and the last hundred pages are full of recipes.  The how is broken down into an eight week plan, each week focusing on something like swapping out healthy sweeteners for sugar, kicking the caffeine habit, or choosing healthy fats.  I read the plan with interest, but I think everything in moderation is okay, so I’m not planning on cutting out sugar or coffee completely any time soon.

The first recipe I tried was Spicy Red Beans and Savory Rice.  You start by simmering cooked kidney beans with kombu, then cook them again in a spicy broth.  Cooking the already cooked beans for an hour made them pretty soft, and while I like spicy food, I thought the spice in the beans wasn’t balanced by anything; it was just spice for spice’s sake.  The rice, on the other hand, was great.  I loved the crunchy veggies interspersed with the rice.  I was surprised that a recipe which was supposed to be for a detox called for four Tablespoons of oil; I reduced that amount greatly.

These are Sang Choy Bow, or Chinese Mushroom Rice “Burritos”.  This recipe was great; the combination of rice, finely chopped mushrooms, garlic, bell pepper, celery and ginger was really tasty.  You’re supposed to put the filling in lettuce leaves to make “burritos”, but honestly I liked the mixture more just on its own.  For a side dish, I sauteed green beans and broccoli in peanut oil and topped it with chopped walnuts.

Next, I tried the Sweet and Sour Sauce with buckwheat, veggies, tempeh and microgreens.  I didn’t love the sauce.  The sweet and sour flavors come from maple syrup and apple cider vinegar and I don’t know if it was the ingredients or the ratios, but I just didn’t like it very much.

Lastly, this is Milanese Tomato Soup, which I really liked.  It’s a chunky tomato soup with other fun stuff like shredded carrot and chopped spinach.  I’m not a big fan of creamy tomato soup, so this was perfect for me.  The only change I would make next time would be to add the carrot and spinach a little earlier, since they were still a little raw at the end of cooking time.  And because tomato soup loves grilled cheese, I made the Gooey Grilled Cheese from The Uncheese Cookbook, which is always a winner.

I’m not sure what I think of The Great American Detox Diet overall.  I like the idea of cleaning up our food, and I like the idea of a detox versus a diet, but I don’t feel like the recipes were always the cleanest they could have been.  For instance, some call for canned items or use more oil than I would expect a “healthy” recipe to.  Some recipes were great, while some just weren’t my cup of tea.  Maybe it’s just a different cooking style than I’m used to.

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Tasty Tailgating

We didn’t do anything grand or fun for the Fourth of July this year, but we did go to an A’s game that weekend.  Weekend games are for tailgating!

In a patriotic bid, Dave made Philly cheesesteaks for the boys, so I made my version with portobello and a vegan cheese slice.  The cheese wasn’t my favorite brand for slices (Tofutti) and didn’t melt at all, but this was still a very tasty sandwich.

I had two lovely CSA tomatoes waiting to be used, so I whipped up a chickpea tuna salad and stuffed ‘em.

Stuffed tomato with grilled corn; patriotic plate and napkin presumably left over from last year.

Last weekend we had a biiiiig tailgate.  Normally it’s just the four of us – myself, Dave and two friends.  This time we were expecting a sister, a friend of Dave’s, his wife, their two friends and their four collective children.  Then, as we were cooking, another friend of Dave’s called to see if we were there.  He was on the way with his pre-bachelor party group, and we ended up having at least twenty five people!  Luckily, we had plenty of food.

Dave’s friend’s wife has celiac disease, so we wanted to make everything gluten free.  In discussing with Dave what we could and couldn’t make, I mentioned that corn tortillas are usually gluten free, so we went with Mexican food.

We started with chips and salsa made from a Rick Bayless recipe.

Dave made carne asada tacos for everyone else, so I grilled up some portobello.  Topped with salsa and cilantro, with a spot of guac on the side.

I wanted a substantial side dish as well, to avoid eating a bajillion tortilla chips, so I made this Mexican Bean and Rice Salad.  I was skeptical that the recipe didn’t include any oil, but the salad didn’t really need it.  If I made it again though, I would use less onion.  I’m just not big into lots of raw onion.

Since we were expecting a crowd, I wanted to make a dessert, and I do love the challenge of vegan, gluten free baking.  These White Chocolate Chip Macadamia Nut Cookies were adapted from this recipe.  I substituted Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All Purpose Baking Flour plus 1/4 teaspoon xantham gum for the flour, and used kosher white chocolate chips that I picked up at Food Fight in June.  The first batch spread too much in the oven, so I mixed in 2 Tablespoons of chickpea flour which seemed to do the trick.  The recipe says it should make three dozen, but I ended up with about sixty cookies!

I’m off to Portland for Vida Vegan Con tomorrow!  I will be attempting to live blog throughout the entire event, so check back here regularly for updates!

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Award Winning Grilling

In mid-July, our friends Matt and Amber hosted the third annual grill-off. They added a veggie category this year, which was basically an open category for anything vegetarian. I rejoined with Dave and our friend Tom to form our team Grilly D. Williams and compete for the glory. The boys took care of the meat categories, and I made four entries – two veggies, a sandwich and a dessert for the open category.

First, I hung out with these guys.

And fueled myself up with veggies and Sanctuary dressing while waiting for my categories to come up.

First entry:

Grilled Asparagus Pesto Stuffed Mushrooms

1 bunch asparagus
large handful fresh basil, torn into pieces
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1 Tbs white miso
3 Tbs nutritional yeast
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
18-20 button or cremini mushrooms

1. Grill the asparagus over medium-high heat until slightly charred and crisp-tender. Allow to cool then chop into pieces, reserving the tips for garnish.
2. Place the asparagus pieces, basil, garlic, pine nuts, miso, nutritional yeast, lemon juice and salt in a food processor and blend until mostly smooth. Drizzle in the olive oil while the processor is running. It is okay if some texture remains in the pesto.
3. Remove the stems from the mushrooms and wrap them in foil in a single layer. Grill over medium-high heat until tender.
4. Allow the mushrooms to cool enough to handle, then stuff with the pesto. You can spoon the pesto in the mushrooms, pipe it with a piping bag, or cut the corner off a ziploc bag and use that to pipe. Garnish with the asparagus tips.

Second entry:

Grilled Italian Stuffed Zucchini

4 large zucchini, halved lengthwise
1 small leek, white and light green parts only, halved, rinsed and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 – 2 Tbs EACH fresh minced thyme, oregano, sage and parsley
2 tsp capers
2 tsp red wine vinegar
3 tsp extra virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for brushing
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 medium tomatoes, diced small
salt
freshly ground black pepper
tofu ricotta, for example the recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance

1. Mix the herbs together in a small bowl.
2. Place the sliced leek, garlic, capers, 3/4 of the herb mixture, the red wine vinegar, 2 tsp of the olive oil and a pinch of salt in a small grill-safe container such as an aluminum pan. Grill over medium high heat, off the heat, until leeks are softened, stirring often.
3. Meanwhile, brush the zucchini halves lightly with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt. Grill the zucchini flat side down until charred and slightly tender, turning the zucchini to create grill marks. Take the leek mixture and zucchinis off the grill and allow to cool.
4. Using a melon baller, scoop out the insides of the zucchinis, reserving the flesh and leaving at least an eighth-inch shell.
5. Chop about two thirds of the zucchini flesh into small pieces and reserve the rest for another use. Mix the chopped zucchini with the leek mixture, diced tomato and breadcrumbs. Taste and add salt or pepper as needed.
6. Mix the remaining herbs with the tofu ricotta.
7. Spoon the leek mixture into the zucchini shells, packing it down slightly. Top each zucchini with some tofu ricotta.
8. Carefully place the zucchinis back on the grill to warm through and cook the bottoms slightly. Serve warm.

Servings: 8

Third entry:

Hoisin Grilled Eggplant Bahn Mi

1 large or 2 medium eggplants, skin on, sliced about 1/2-inch thick
salt
1/2 cup vegetarian hoisin sauce
2 Tbs fresh grated ginger
1 clove garlic, grated
1 tsp tamari or low-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp peanut oil
loaf French bread or four bread rolls
vegan mayonnaise
lettuce
thinly sliced cucumber
cilantro sprigs

1. Place a colander over a bowl. Add the eggplant slices, salting each layer well. Allow to drain for 30 minutes then rinse and pat dry.
2. Lightly oil the eggplant slices with olive or canola oil, and grill over medium high heat until softened and slightly charred.
3. While the eggplant is cooking, mix together the hoisin sauce, ginger, garlic, tamari and peanut oil in a medium bowl.
4. Dip both sides of each eggplant slice into the sauce and shake off the excess. Place the eggplant back on the grill for a few more minutes.
5. If there is any remaining sauce, add a little to the eggplant and toss to coat.
6. To assemble, spread some mayonnaise on each side of the bread. Place the eggplant on the rolls then top with cucumber, lettuce, and cilantro sprigs.

Servings: 4

Fourth entry:

Grilled pound cake with pineapple, rum sauce and coconut whipped cream. This is more of a collection of deliciousness than a recipe. I started with the Vanilla Yogurt Pound Cake from Veganomicon, brushing both sides with melted Earth Balance and grilling. The cake was topped with grilled pineapple and rum sauce veganized from this recipe. For the coconut whipped cream, I refrigerated a can of coconut milk and scooped the solid cream from the top, then mixed it with a bit of vanilla extract, powdered sugar and xantham gum. The cream was very thick, which worked well to keep it from melting too much when it was placed on the hot cake and pineapple.
I felt really good about the dishes I submitted, but the competition is stiff among our friends! Plus, the judges aren’t necessarily used to eating vegetarian food, so I never know what to expect. But, I won a few prizes! My eggplant bahn mi placed third in the burgers and sandwiches category, and my dessert placed second in the open category. Dave placed with a number of his entries, and Grilly D. Williams won as the best team overall. Plus, my dessert was picked as a judges favorite!

What’s funny is that I spent the most amount of time testing and prepping for my veggie entries, and they didn’t even place. My sandwich and dessert entry were more thrown together, and they both placed. Just goes to show that you should always trust your cooking instincts!

Comments (5)

Vegan Scallops

I usually like to post in chronological order, but I was so pleased with how this meal turned out that I had to share it now!

When I received king trumpet mushrooms from my CSA, I knew right away what I wanted to try to do with them.  I had seen scallops made from mushrooms around the internet before but couldn’t find a recipe, so I made up my own.  I’m really happy with how they look…kind of like real scallops?  I googled seared scallops to get a picture of what I should be going for, and I think I came pretty close.  I wasn’t enamored with the flavor of the mushrooms on their own, but when I ate one with a bit of the lemony sauteed spinach, it came to life flavor-wise.  The lemon is essential!

Vegan Scallops

The nonstick skillet and high heat are important to get a proper sear.  Be sure not to overcrowd the pan.

1/2 lb king trumpet mushrooms, stems about 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick
1 cup vegetable broth or water, plus more as needed
2 Tbs vegetarian fish sauce
1 Tbs agave nectar
salt and freshly ground black pepper
lemon wedges

1. Slice off the ends of the mushroom stems, then slice the stems into pieces about 1 1/2-inches long.  Save the caps for another purpose.
2. In a shallow container large enough to hold all of the mushrooms, whisk together the vegetable broth, vegetarian fish sauce and agave nectar.  Add the mushrooms, and add more broth if needed, just to cover the mushrooms.  Place another dish on top to keep the mushrooms submerged.  Place in the refrigerator and marinate at least 8 hours.
3. Drain the mushrooms and pat them as dry as possible.  Heat a nonstick skillet over high heat.
4. Season a few mushrooms lightly with salt and pepper on both cut sides.  Place in the skillet, cut side down, and don’t move them for at least 1 minute.  Check the mushrooms; they should be well-seared and pretty brown.  If not, continue to let them cook until brown.  Flip the mushrooms and sear the other sides.  Remove to a plate and repeat until all mushrooms are cooked.
5. Serve hot with lemon wedges.

Servings: 3
Yield: 15-16 scallops

Note:  I listed a recipe for vegetarian fish sauce in this post, or there’s a recipe in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian that would probably work too.

My marinating vessel – two bread pans.

Don’t do like I did and season all the mushrooms at once!  The salt draws out moisture and makes it more difficult to get a good sear.

The Flavor Bible says that scallops go well with cauliflower and spinach, and so that is what I made for side dishes.  The spinach was sauteed very simply with shallots, garlic, and lemon juice and zest.  The cauliflower gratin was based on this recipe, and was very easy and tasty.  The only changes I made were to use almond milk and shredded Follow Your Heart cheddar.  A cheesy gratin based on a roux might taste more fatty and satisfying, but this low-fat version was a nice light addition to the meal.

On a side note, I added a new page for my budding chef business here.  Check it out!

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