Posts Tagged beverages

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: Flavor Bible Week – Lychees

It hasn’t exactly been tropical drink weather here lately, what with the rain and the cold…or does that make it more appropriate to pretend I’m in the tropics?

Day two of Flavor Bible Week brings us to page 209, lychees.  I have never eaten lychees before, and other than the fact that they are a fruit I didn’t know much about ’em!  I had heard of lychee martinis, and I decided to make an adult beverage.  I’m not a huge martini fan though, so I consulted the flavor matches to see what else I could do.

According to the book, lychees pair well with a lot of fruits and Asian flavors – berries, cilantro, lemongrass, plums, etc.  The pairing that caught my eye was “melon, especially honeydew”.  Perfect!  I love Midori, which is a melon-flavored liqueur, and now the Flavor Bible was confirming that it would taste good with lychees.  Inspired by this cocktail recipe, I added more flavor matches with pineapple, rum and coconut.

Lychee-dori

20 oz can lychees in syrup
coconut rum
Midori
pineapple juice
coconut milk or soy creamer

Remove a few lychees from the can to save for garnish, and pour the rest of the lychees and syrup into a blender.  Blend until smooth.  If your blender isn’t the best, you can strain the puree through a fine mesh strainer.

For each cocktail, combine 2 ounces lychee puree, 1 ounce coconut rum, 1 ounce Midori and 1 ounce pineapple juice.  Shake in a cocktail shaker with ice, or pour over ice.  Garnish with lychees on a pick and top with coconut milk or soy creamer.

(The coconut milk that was in my fridge had sadly gone bad, so I used soy creamer as a last minute substitute.  I really think the coconut milk would be better!)

This drink is dangerous, because you can’t really taste the alcohol; it tastes like delicious juice!  However, I was really not a fan of the lychees themselves.  The flavor is nice, but the texture is weird and chewy and squishy.  Also, I had to make a special trip to the Asian market to get lychees because I couldn’t find them at my normally well-stocked grocery store.  I doubt that I will be seeking out lychees again, but at least now I know what they taste like!

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VeganMoFo: Impromptu Trips – Disneyland and Reno

Scene:  late July, at a Saturday afternoon Oakland A’s game.

Dave:  “If I paid for everything, would you guys leave right now to go to Disneyland tomorrow?”

Me:  “Uh, hell yes?”

And that is how we found ourselves heading down I-5 on that Saturday night, already exhausted, with dreams of Disney dancing in our heads.  (Note – I know a lot of people don’t like Disney because they’re an evil corporation and all that, but I like Disney and I’m not apologizing for it.  I even worked at Disney World for a little while and managed not to become disenfranchised by seeing Cinderella taking a smoke break and Chip ‘n Dale walking around with their heads off.)

Dave’s sister lives near LA, so we stayed at her place, going to bed after midnight and getting up bright and early at 6AM.  We were only going to be there for one day, so we wanted to maximize our time at the parks.

This accurately reflects how we felt most of the morning.  We were excited to be there, but boy were we dragging!

I had eaten a banana and a Luna bar for breakfast, so after a few hours I had this Mickey pretzel for fuel.  I felt kinda bad about eating his face.

For lunch, we headed to the ESPN Zone in Downtown Disney, which is one of Dave’s favorite places on earth.  I ordered the portobello mushroom sandwiches, which I had confirmed on a previous visit was vegan if you take off the dressing and cheese.  I asked for a side of vinaigrette to add some flavor, and ordered fruit instead of fries, which in retrospect was a bad idea because I really could’ve used more heft to the meal.

Walking around the hotel area looking for a place to stay that night, I ran into Goofy!  Horrible picture of me, but…Goofy!

(True story:  On the way to the ESPN Zone, I was singing along to “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid, which was playing over the speakers.  Dave and Matt were laughing at me until we passed a middle-aged gentleman (not an employee or a dad) also singing along loudly, and then they laughed even harder.)

Scariest ride EVER.  When I go on the Tower of Terror I don’t scream because I’m having fun, I scream because I think I actually might die.

I became a little ill that evening, possibly from letting my blood sugar get too low and/or exhaustion, so Dave was kind enough to stand in line and get me this Vegetarian Gumbo from the stand next to the Haunted Mansion.  Truth be told, it wasn’t that great, but it was gentle on my tummy and stabilized me enough to go on a few more rides before passing out.  Sorry about the awful photo…

Verdict:  I still love Disneyland, and I’m glad that they have veggie options in the park.  From what I remember, the veggie burgers that you find around the park are vegan (ask for no butter on the bun), and I’ve heard that some ice cream shops have soy ice cream on request.  One day just isn’t enough to do everything!

Onto our last trip to Reno, which falls into the impromptu category because we had decided to go about two days prior.  As I mentioned in my last Reno post, we’ve gotten into the habit of going to Reno every few months, so this will probably be my last Reno post for a while, as there just aren’t that many vegan options there to show you.  Unless I go to Freeman’s again, which obviously would be very exciting.

We left work a little early on Friday to make the four hour drive.  After checking in, we decided on Brew Brothers for dinner.  I asked our waiter if he knew what brand their veggie burger was, or if it was house-made.  He said he didn’t know, and didn’t offer to try to find out.  Come on, guy.  I was highly irritated by this.  If you are a server and you don’t know the answer to a question regarding ingredients, at least offer to try to find out.  Maybe I’ll be nice and say never mind, but probably I am asking for a reason and would actually like to know.  I try not to be an annoying restaurant customer – I had one question, and if the veggie burger turned out not to be vegan, I had a back up plan.

Which was the veggie pizza with no cheese.  It wasn’t exactly what I wanted, but it was warm and filling and perfectly spicy.

I was feeling a little spunky and indecisive about what I wanted in the beer department, so I ordered the full sampler.  It was $1 for one 4 oz sample, or $7 for all eight 4 oz samples.  That’s 32 ounces of craft beer, people!  And it came in this awesome wheel!  Don’t worry, I didn’t drink it all – I needed help to finish.  Some of their beers are really good, and some are okay but not a stand-out.  Overall, I really like Brew Brothers except for the mean waiter who won’t answer my questions.  (To be fair, we’ve had good service there before, and the waiter wasn’t that mean…but he wasn’t that nice either.)

The next morning the boys went to the buffet, and I slept in and enjoyed this hotel room breakfast.

…and then this happened.  Sports book, football and baseball lines, bloody Mary.  When in Rome…

When I couldn’t stand being inside one minute longer, I stepped onto the street to check out the Great Italian Festival, which just so happened to be going on that weekend.

The concept was pretty neat, actually.  Each booth was for a family or region, and they had big vats of hot pasta sauce.  Most booths had little slices of bread they would scoop some sauce onto for sampling.

Or, you could buy a bowl of spaghetti for them to put the sauce on.  All the sauce samples were free, which I thought was really nice considering how much festival food usually costs.

There was a grape stomping (?) contest, of which I only saw the before and after.  This guy was pitchforking grapes into the buckets in preparation for their stomping.

There were fresh artichokes, but sadly they were all going in that giant pan with sausage.

I did pick up a bellini to try, made with fresh peaches, and it was lovely.  I don’t think I had ever had a bellini before.

There was one vendor that caught my eye, pastamore.  They had a large variety of their vinegars and oils for sampling, and every single one that I tried was outstanding.  They don’t currently sell in any retail shops, but you can find their products on their website.  I bought two of their balsamic vinegars to take home.

Upon coming back inside from the festival, I was in dire need of lunch.  I headed over to the Silver Legacy food court, which has one or two veggie options, and they were closed!  In the middle of the day at 3PM!  What’s the point of a casino food court if they’re closed in the middle of the day on a Saturday???

Luckily, I’ve been to the area enough times now that I know what my other options are, because I was getting hangry.  I headed back outside and across the street to the taqueria.

Okay, so burritos don’t photograph very well, but my god do I love burritos the size of my head!

Dave and I celebrating 10:10 10/10/10.

I also celebrated winning my first sports parlay!  I turned $10 into $90.  Or rather, I recouped the money I had lost playing craps and buying vinegar.

Since I had eaten such a late, large lunch, I wasn’t hungry again till it was basically time to retire.  I went to the food court again, and AGAIN it was closed!  How is a casino food court to make any money if they’re closed at 3PM and midnight on a Saturday?  I don’t get it.

Instead, I went to Cafe Sedona, which I don’t really care for but is open 24 hours, so they win.  The only real option was the veggie burger.  The fries were pretty good and the burger came with sprouts, so it was decent for midnight eats with limited options.

We checked out relatively early the next morning and decided to take the long way home, since neither Matt nor I had ever been to Lake Tahoe.  We weren’t in a hurry, so we stopped for brunch at the Black Bear Diner.  They have a few vegetarian menu items but nothing that’s vegan without being modified, and they are happy to accept special requests.  In spite of my limited options, I really do like the Black Bear Diner.

I wasn’t in the mood for another veggie burger AT ALL since I’d just had one 10 hours prior, but it was the best full-meal option, so I went for it.  I have to say that I was very pleasantly surprised when my plate arrived!  For vegan diner food in a non-vegan diner, it was good stuff.

It was a long drive to Tahoe.  A very long and sometimes scary, mountainous drive.  The first view of the lake was worth it though.

We descended to the city of Lake Tahoe, and drove around about half the lake.  Tahoe is a lovely area with plenty to see and do, and we definitely want to go back and spend some time there on one of our next trips.

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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%

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