Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Chili Dogs, Or Just Chili!

Every time I've opened my fridge for the last two weeks, this package of Smart Dogs has been staring at me.  I like hot dogs ok, but chili dogs, yum!  I actually never had a "real" chili dog before; I've only made them since becoming vegetarian.  And man are they good!  I've been wanting to make them, but in order to make them, you have to make the chili of course, and I haven't really been in the mood, because that means that I would have to eat all of the leftover chili, which I have not wanted to do, so...

However, in the middle of being extremely busy prepping for my Gluten Free classes and having to feed the Hubby and myself of course, the hot dogs were looking at me again.  Remembering that I always have some kind of cooked beans in the freezer, I rummaged around a found a bag of cooked black beans.  After thawing them out, the chili actually came together and was ready to eat within half an hour or so.

Chili for Chili Dogs

Gigantic Pot 'O Chili

Serves 4-6

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small green pepper, chopped, about 1 cup
1 small orange pepper, chopped, about 1 cup
1 large onion, chopped, about 1 1/2 cups
1 jalapeno, minced
6 cloves garlic, chopped
3 cups cooked black beans (or preferred beans)
1/3 cup tvp
2 large roma tomatoes, chopped, about 2 cups
4 cups filtered water
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2-3 pinches cayenne pepper

1.  In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and add the green, orange and jalapeno peppers, the onion and the garlic.  Saute 2-3 minutes or until fragrant.
2.  Add the chopped roma tomatoes and continue to saute for an additional 2 minutes. 
3.  Add the black beans and all the spices, stirring to coat.  Add the 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. 
4.  Add the tvp, stirring immediately as it hits the boiling liquid.  It will swell immediately. 
5.  Lower heat to medium-low and simmer until chili has desired flavor and texture ( I like mine a little on the thick side).  This can be served as chili dogs or in a bowl or with a slice of cornbread on the side.

Ingredients for Chili Dogs:

Chili Dogs!

(All of the following ingredients are as needed, meaning for as many people as you intend to serve- the chili will make a ton of chili dogs)
Smart Dogs
Sweet Onion, chopped
Green Pepper, chopped
Chili, above

1. Toast buns in the oven until golden.
2.  Place smart dogs in a pan on the stove with a drizzle of olive oil and cook until browned on all sides.
3.  Place smart dog in center of bun, top with about 1/4 cup of chili, immediately followed by the daiya (so it can melt) and topped with the green pepper and sweet onion.
4.  Consume!



Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Dinner!

Oh, the weather outside is frightful ... !!!  Man is the snow really coming down out there.  Just walked in the door from coming back home from work, and let me say has the snow really come down!  When I left for work this morning, there was absolutely nothing on the ground, and when I peeked out the window at work, there were several inches already on the ground in Manhattan, meaning that Brooklyn must have a ton more snow - and I see now that it definitely does!  I wish yesterday would have been like this - it is so festive.  Oh well, at least it's here now.  The funny thing about snow is that I come from a state where there is so much snow so much of the time that coming here to NY was like living in a tropical place.  Now that I've been here for over three years, I find myself becoming wimpier and wimpier as the time goes by and cannot imagine my poor family trying to live and work in several feet of snow.  Let's move on, shall we, now that I have my hot tea in front of me?

I had a great Christmas, spending lots of time with the Hubby and hope everyone else out there did too.  I was somewhat on a time crunch this year with so much stuff to do that I didn't really cook as much as I wanted, which is not to say that we didn't have enough - we were sufficiently stuffed at the end of the meal.  I usually prepare the same kind of food for both Thanksgiving and Christmas, but for some reason I didn't feel like eating the green bean casserole, unturkey and all that goes along with it.  I felt like eating a little bit lighter, so that's what the Hubby and I did.  We still had to have the staples mashed potatoes and stuffing of course, but we also added a bunch of veggies with a dipping sauce, baked seitan with a mushroom sauce, sweet potato casserole,  Peruvian style salad, etc.  I'm going to list a few of the main recipes I made.  I'm not going to write down the desserts, because frankly, I was a little disappointed in them and do not want to write them down until I have tried them a couple more times.  So here are some of the delicious things I made for the  Hubby and I to enjoy!

The Christmas Spread

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Serves 6-8

1 small butternut squash, peeled and chopped
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large onion, diced, about 1 1/2 cups
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped, about 1 cup
6 cloves garlic, chopped
8 cups dark roasted vegetable stock
6 springs fresh thyme, stripped off tough stems
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt or to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2.  Place the chopped butternut squash in a large bowl and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt and black pepper.  Place on a baking sheet and roast for about 15 minutes, or until lightly browned and cooked through.
3.  Meanwhile, in a large soup pot, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and heat over medium-high heat.  Add the onions, celery and carrots and saute for 2-3 minutes, or until fragrant.  Add the chopped garlic and cook for an addition 2-3 minutes.  Add the roasted squash and saute until all veggies are well mixed. 
4.  Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the stock, sea salt, black pepper and thyme.  Simmer for 15-20 minutes or until all the veggies are cooked through and the liquid is well seasoned.  
5.  Allow soup to cool down for 15-20 minutes and working in batches, blend the soup until smooth and creamy, placing the pureed soup in a clean pot.  Once all of the soup is pureed, taste for seasoning, adding more salt of pepper as needed.  Keep warm and serve.


Serves 6-8

10-12 cups dried bread
1 large onion, small diced, about 1 1/2 cups
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 1/2- 2 tablespoons better than boullion, no-chicken flavor*
1 1/2 teaspoons rubbed sage
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
2.  In a medium sized pot, add the onions and celery, along with the boullion, sage, salt and pepper.  Stir to coat.
3.  Add 4 cups hot water and bring contents to a boil.  Once it boils, turn down to a simmer and simmer just until onions and celery are cooked through. 
4.  Place the dried bread in a large bowl and pour the herbed onion and garlic broth over top.  Using a spatula, toss to coat, ensuring everything is well coated.
5.  Lightly oil a 9x13" pan and firmly press the stuffing mixture into the pan.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake, covered, for 20 minutes.  After 20 minutes, remove the foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until the top is crispy and the edges are browned.
*Note: This mixture is supposed to taste strong.  My mum always told me that when you're making stuffing it should always taste too salty, to peppery and too sage-y.  That way, once it has cooked into the bread, which is extremely plain, it will be perfect.  This has always worked for me.  Also, this is a basic recipe .  If you'd like, just before mixing the bread with the broth mixture, you can saute half of a package of Gimme Lean Sausage Style and mix it in, baking it as indicated above.

Peruvian Salad

Serves 6-8

3 beets, peeled and small diced, about 3 cups
6 potatoes, peeled and small diced, about 4-5 cups
1 1/2 cups green peas, cooked according to package directions
2/3 cup vegan mayonnaise ( I like Follow Your Heart)
3/4 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
(I like to add the following, but in the Hubby's purest view*, the above is perfect:
1/2 small sweet onion, small diced
2 stalks celery, sliced down the middle and small diced)

1.  In a medium pot, cook the potatoes and beets, separately, until just cooked.  Drain with cold water and place in a large bowl.
2.  Add the remaining ingredients and toss to coat.  The salad will have turned a beautiful pink color, which is what you want.  At this point, you can add the onion and celery, if desired.

*The hubby grew up eating this salad in the Dominican Republic and has pretty strong  opinions about what goes in it, but I feel like it definitely benefits from some added crunch, achieved here by the onion and celery.  But you can prepare it as you'd like.

Sweet Potato Casserole

Serves 6-8

5 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons earth balance
pinch sea salt and black pepper
6 tablespoons raw sugar, divided
1/4 cup pecans, chopped

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Boil sweet potatoes until tender.  Drain well and return to pot.  Add the earth balance and allow to melt.  Sprinkle with the sea salt, black pepper and 3 tablespoons of the raw sugar.
3.  Mash potatoes until completely fluffy and lump free.  Season to taste.
4.  Lightly oil a 8x8" pan and scoop potato mixture into pan, pressing firmly with a spatula and smoothing out the top.
5.  Sprinkle the remaining 3 tablespoons raw sugar on top, followed by the chopped pecans.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until warmed all the way through and sugar on top has caramelized.

All of the Delicious Food!

This was an amazing Christmas for the Hubby and I (our second together!) and we wish everyone great health, happiness and good eats as we make our way into the new year!



Thursday, December 23, 2010

Veggie Stir Fry with Spicy Peanut Sauce

Lately in the bakery, my coworkers and I have made it a point to take turns preparing family meal, that is a meal that is served for our entire department, family style.  One of my coworkers is obsessed with peanut butter (her words!) and makes this amazing peanut sauce that can be put on literally anything.  Honestly, I have only made peanut sauce one other time in my life and it was absolutely disgusting!  This was many years ago and I have not attempted nor purposely eaten anything with peanut sauce on it since.  I was nervous about trying her sauce, but she was going on about how great it was, so I tried it and surprise surprise, it was amazing!  Slightly sweet, nicely spicy and a beautiful texture, I was in love!  I've asked her numerous times how she makes it and she always tells me what she puts in it, but not the amounts, because she never measures anything in it.  I am one for measuring everything.  I am always testing recipes, so for me not to know exactly how much is in something is terrifying. 

She hasn't made the peanut sauce at work in a while and I feel like I need to eat it, so I decided to do as she did - just put a bunch of different things in it, but unlike her, I carefully measured and recorded everything.

Let me say too, that like me, my hubby wasn't initially very excited about this dish when I was explaining it to him.  He is Dominican and not vegan or even vegetarian, but he is mostly very willing to try anything I make.  He almost drew the line at this one.  The only time he has ever had peanut butter before was of course on a pb & j sandwich, which he had for the first time when he came to this country about four years ago.  He was so funny and talking about how us Americans will basically eat any and everything, not matter how weird it is.  I was explaining to him how peanut sauce isn't even an American dish, and after talking about it for two days, he finally agreed.  So here is the delicious dish I made for the Hubby and I for lunch.

Stir Fry with Spicy Peanut Sauce:

Serves 6

16 oz. 100% buckwheat noodles, cooked according to package instructions

Peanut Sauce:
1/2 cup smooth natural peanut butter
1/2 cup filtered water
2 tablespoons tamari
2 tablespoons agave
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon sriracha
1 clove garlic, minced

In a medium bowl, whisk together all the ingredients until completely smooth.  When you first start whisking, it may look like the peanut butter will not emulsify into the water, but believe me, it will, just keep whisking.  Also, the sauce will look a tad thin, but will thicken within a few minutes.

Baked Tofu:
1 lb. firm tofu, cut into 1/2" cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons tamari,
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Mix together the olive oil, tamari, toasted sesame oil and pepper flakes in a medium bowl.  Add the tofu and toss to coat.  Place on a parchment or aluminum foil covered sheet tray and bake in oven for about 30 minutes, or about the time it takes you to prepare the rest of the meal.

1 sweet potato, peeled and boiled until just tender
To Saute:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 stalks celery, sliced thinly on the bias
2 carrots, peeled and julienned
1/2 large onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2" piece peeled ginger, grated
1 jalapeno pepper, minced

To Blanch:
6 baby bok choy, sliced
1 large head broccoli, separated in florets and stems peeled and sliced
1/4 bunch kale, sliced into bite sized pieces
1 small green pepper, julienned
1 small red or orange pepper, julienned
1/2 cup snap peas, tough ends removed

1.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  In batches, place the vegetables in the boiling water for 45 seconds to a minute, or until tender crisp.  Remove using a slotted spoon and place in colander to drain.  Continue until all the vegetables have been blanched. 
2.  Place the olive oil in a wok over medium-high heat and add the celery, onions and carrots and saute until almost tender.  Add the garlic and ginger and continue to saute for 2-3 minutes or until fragrant.  Add all of the blanched vegetables and the boiled sweet potato and saute until just heated through.

To serve, place a serving of the noodles in the center of the plate.  Top with a large amount of the vegetables, followed by the baked tofu and as much of the peanut sauce as you would like.  Delicious!



Sunday, December 19, 2010

Potato Chorizo Tacos

When the Hubby woke up this morning, he declared that he was starving.  He went to the fridge, rummaged around and declared that even though the fridge was full, there was nothing to eat.  I went in the kitchen, glancing inside the fridge to see what he was looking at, and sure enough, the fridge was full, but there was tons of things to eat.  He just meant that there was nothing already prepared that he could start munching on.  I laughed and said I would start making something.  Once I was actually looking more thoroughly in the fridge, I discovered there wasn't much in the way of fresh produce: an onion, a head of garlic, a couple green peppers and tomatoes, etc.  We did have several pounds of potatoes and tons of vegetarian meat replacements because I had just been to Trader Joe's.

Then I remembered that one of my coworkers had made a potato chorizo taco for family meal a couple weeks ago and it was delicious!  She told me what it had in it and I decided to set off and attempt to replicate it.  The Hubby, being Dominican, requested that I also make some tostones (fried green plantains) for him to go with the tacos since we haven't had them in a while.  I know, I know, terrible carb overload - potatoes, whole wheat wrap and fried plantains.  No wonder we were tired after eating, but damn was it good!  Next time, I think I will serve some steamed veggies or a salad on the side (that is, if we have more fresh produce then!).  Hubby is always so surprised by how much produce we use, but I keep reminding him that I'm veggie and he eats tons of veggies with me!  Funny Hubby!  Here is the recipe:

Potato Chorizo Tacos:

Potato Soy Chorizo Tacos with Vegan Sour Cream, Salsa and Tostones

Serves 4

4 whole wheat wraps (or corn tortillas for a gluten free option)

4 large potatoes diced  (3 1/2 cups)
1 jalapeno, minced
1/2 large onion, small diced (3/4 cup)
1 green pepper, small diced (1 cup)
1/2 red pepper, small diced (1/2 cup)
1 carrot, peeled and julienned
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 tube Trader Joe's soy chorizo

To Serve: vegan sour cream, salsa and wedges of lime.  Yum!

1.  Place potatoes in a medium pot covered with warm water and cook over medium heat until just tender.  Drain and set aside.
2.  In a medium pan, Saute the onions, green, red and jalapeno peppers until just softened.  Add the chopped garlic and saute until fragrant, about 2 minutes. 
3.  Add the soy chorizo and stir to coat.  Add all of the spices and stir to coat. 
4.  Place the spiced veggies and chorizo in a large bowl with the potatoes and using a potato masher, slightly mash together the ingredients until the potatoes are in smaller pieces.  Use a wooden spoon or spatula to continue mixing all of the ingredients together.  Season to taste.
5.  Warm the wraps by placing directly over the flame on your stove, about 5-10 seconds on each side.  (Alternately, you could warm them on both sides in a hot, dry pan.)
6.  Place the spiced potato mixture in the center of the wrap and top with the sour cream, salsa and a squeeze of lime juice if desired.  Serve hot.  This is so delicious!



Friday, December 17, 2010

Gluten Free Testing: Sugar Cookies

I teach gluten free vegan classes at a natural culinary school in NYC and am always testing gluten free recipes for the class and for the bakery- my other job.  Both places focus on using as natural ingredients as possible, so it is often challenging to achieve the right texture and flavor in the baked goods.  Using a natural sugar over a processed one definitely makes a huge difference- the baked good will be darker and have a stronger molassesy caramely flavor.  Also, natural gluten free flours have a definite textural difference over processed flours like white flour.  However, this is not evident in all baked goods and is so much more health supportive than using processed ingredients. 

Onto the fun part - the testing.  We were talking in the bakery about introducing holiday/Christmas themed baked goods and of course sugar cookies came up.  Vegan sugar cookies - easy!  Unbleached flour, sugar and earth balance and you're golden.  Gluten free?  More challenging and exciting!  I searched all over online for a gluten free recipe that could easily be converted to vegan, meaning that it didn't contain a ton of eggs - that's the biggest challenge in converting non vegan gluten free recipes to vegan - a lot of the time these recipes call for multiple eggs- upwards of 4-6. 

I found  several recipes and combined them into one and came up with this recipe, modified to be vegan of course!

Gluten Free Vegan Sugar Cookies:

Yields: 2 dozen cookies

2 1/2 cups sorghum flour (or fine ground white rice flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 cup turbinado sugar
1 cup earth balance
2 tablespoons flax eggs (mix 1/3 cup ground flax seeds with 2/3 cup water in a jar and shake until combined and measure 2 tablespoons)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Gluten Free Sugar Cookie with Powdered Sugar Icing

The cookie was delicious and the girls in the bakery and myself ate several of them each.  The bright green Christmas-y frosting made it even better.  A must make for Christmas!



Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Minestrone Soup

I've been feeling pretty under the weather lately.  And I am sure it has to do with the fact that the weather here has officially changed overnight from fall to deep winter, from 50 to less than 20 degrees overnight.  So I've been fighting a losing battle with a head cold since Sunday and am feeling better everyday, but still a little stuffy with a funny voice.  I am hoping it goes completely away or at least that my normal voice will come back within the next day and a half because I have a gluten free class coming up this Friday and would prefer not to sound so nasally with my mic on! 

Soup has been my best friend these last couple days, although admittedly I have not been making it - the kitchen at my job has been making it.  Nothing better than a nice hot organic vegan soup to make you feel better, laced with a ton of cayenne pepper of course!

On Sunday I decided to try to make a Feel Better Soup from one of the many cookbooks I have, convinced that it would help me feel better faster because it contained huge amounts of great for you things - ginger, garlic and cayenne.  I made the soup with a few minor changes and expected it to taste potent, but damn!  It has to officially be the worst thing I have ever made.  Ugh!

I feel like I have been saying that several times over the last week or so.  You see, I am in the process of testing a bunch of gluten free, vegan, soy free recipes for the classes I'm going to teach next term, and even though I feel like I have been doing this forever, sometimes a recipe I test turns out absolutely disgustingly.  Rubbery, hard, gritty, too sweet or not sweet enough.  I feel like I've achieved one from every category this past week or so.  But, out of those failures came many successes too.

Back to the soup!  Last night was the first night I actually didn't feel like immediately crashing into bed when I got home and I was craving soup pretty badly, so I decided to look in the fridge, which was getting pretty sad looking and took out all the veggies I had and decided on a minestrone.  It ended up being delicious much to the Hubby's amazement (he is not really one for soups) and I even brought some to work for breakfast.  Yes breakfast!  When you work in a bakery, the last thing you want is something baked in any form, or really any kind of carbohydrate based food.  Soup is a common breakfast food for us, although some of the girls newer to the bakery have been known to have a slice of pie or cookie for breakfast!

Here is the recipe for the delicious Minestrone that has helped me feel better, and hopefully completely well by Friday evening!

Minestrone Soup:

Minestrone Soup with Multigrain Crusty Bread

Serves: 6-8

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 carrots, peeled, sliced into half moons
1 medium onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 zucchini, quartered and sliced
1 large green pepper, chopped
2 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 jalapeno, minced
4 garlic cloves, cut in half and sliced
1/4 cup sherry
2 cups cooked tomatoes in their juices
6 cups roasted veggie or dark stock
1 cup cooked elbow pasta
1 15 oz. can cannellini beans, rinsed well
sea salt to taste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed with fingers
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed with fingers
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1.  Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Add the onions, jalapeno and garlic and cook until fragrant and browned.  Deglaze with sherry and allow to cook until almost evaporated.
2.  Add remaining vegetables and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring.  Add stock, stir and lower heat.  Add tomatoes, crushing with your hands if large.
3.  Add spices and sea salt.  Bring mixture to a simmer and cook until vegetables are just tender.  Add cooked pasta and beans.  Season to taste. 
4.  Serve.  Goes well with a nice piece of crusty bread.

If you really want this to help you get better faster, add lots of cayenne to your serving and once you start sniffling and crying, you'll know you've added enough!



Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Vegan Mozzarella Sticks!

Vegan Mozzarella Sticks!  The best and least healthy thing in the world - something that makes me deliriously happy!  I used to love the ooey gooey cheese sticks when I was a kid and definitely ate them far too often.  I can't remember how many years it's been since I've had them - high school was probably the last time!

I am so lucky to work in a vegan bakery within an extremely vegan friendly kitchen.  Our chef allows myself and others in our department to purchase items from the kitchen at her cost, which is a considerable discount  when you consider the price at retail.  So, I recently purchased a one pound chunk (there is no better word!) of daiya mozzarella style vegan cheese.  I had such grand ideas of things to make with this cheese, but truth told, once I purchased it, it seemed like too much and I rarely seem to use "cheese" anymore on anything I cook.  I've started getting nervous about it going bad, and even though I bought it at a nice discount, it wasn't free and I definitely don't want to throw it away.

I was talking to a coworker about my dilemma, and she came up with an entire list of suggestions, like lasagna, stuffed shells ... and ... mozzarella sticks.  I was so overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of cheese that it hadn't occurred to me to make any of those things, even though I have tried the vegan cheese sticks before and had success with my recipe.  So cheese sticks here we come:

Vegan Mozzarella Sticks:

Yields: 4-6 Servings

Wet Batter:
1/2 cup unbleached flour
1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk
1 tablespoon arrowroot or tapioca starch
1 tablespoon corn meal
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Breadcrumb Mix:
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder

1.  Slice the cheese into rectangular sticks and set aside.
2.  Prepare the wet batter.  Place all ingredients into a small bowl and whisk together until smooth and no lumps remain.  This mixture will be very thick.
3.  Prepare the herbed bread crumb mixture.  Place all the ingredients into a small bowl and mix with hands until the herbs and spices are evenly distributed.
4.  Set everything up in an assembly-line production style:  the mozzarella sticks, the wet batter, the bread crumb mixture and a clean plate to put the finished sticks on.
5.  Place the mozzarella stick in the wet batter and coat all sides. Immediately dunk the wet cheese stick into the bread crumb mixture, and working quickly, coat all sides in the herbed mixture and place the finished cheese stick onto the clean plate.
6.  Repeat with remaining ingredients until all the cheese sticks are coated in both the wet mix and the bread crumb mix. 
7.  Place the entire plate of cheese sticks in the freezer for 15-20 minutes or until the outer crust firms and is no longer soft to the touch.  This is a very important step - if you do not do this, the outer coating will fall off as soon as it hits the oil and the cheese will burn all over the pan and oil and just creates a terrible mess - I made this mistake the first time because I was feeling lazy about waiting while the cheese sticks  were in the freezer.
8.  Place about an inch of no-taste oil like canola or vegetable in a small sauce pot and heat over medium-high heat until a piece of bread crumb immediately starts bubbling and comes to the surface.
9.  Fry these in batches and place on a paper towel lined plate to drain.  Watch these very carefully as they like to stick to one another and they take only about 30-40 seconds.  As soon as they are lightly golden, take them out or the cheese will start exploding out the sides.
10 .  Eat these with a nice warm dish of marinara sauce - homemade hopefully!  So delicious!



Friday, December 10, 2010

Seitan Portabella Pot Roast

I always make my own seitan, and I made a ton of it a few weeks ago from this cookbook  called The New Now and Zen Epicure, written by Miyoko Nishimoto Schinner.  I am always trying new seitan recipes and this was a really fun one.  After the Hubby and I ate it for like three days straight, I froze the rest of the seitan and thawed it out last night.  There is still so much of it left, and now I have to come up with creative ways to use it because it cannot be refrozen.  The Hubby loves seitan the most over other meat replacers because it tastes and feels so "meaty".  I have a ton of ideas for it and came up with this delicious one, which came together really quickly since I already had so many of the ingredients prepared. 

Seitan Portabella Pot Roast:

Gigantic Dish of Pot Roast!

1 cup baby carrots
1 medium onion, chopped (1 1/2 cups)
1 jalapeno, chopped
5 small potatoes, unpeeled and chopped (2 1/2 cups)
2 medium portabellas, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. seitan, preferably homemade, chopped into 1" pieces
4 tablespoons olive oil, separated
1/4 cup marsala wine
2 cups roasted mushroom stock
1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed with fingers
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1.  Place 2 tablespoons olive oil in a nonstick pan and heat over medium-high heat.  Carefully place seitan into hot oil and cook until browned on all sides, about 2-3 minutes each.  Drai on paper towels.  Set aside.
2.  In the same nonstick pan with the same oil, lower the heat to medium and place the chopped garlic cloves inside.  Allow to cook for about 30 seconds before adding the chopped portabellas and cook for about 2 minutes, or until fragrant.  Add a sprinkle of sea salt and black pepper.  Place garlic and mushrooms in a medium bowl with all the remaining ingredients.  Toss all ingredients to coat.  Season the liquid to taste. 
3.  Cover tightly with foil and bake at 450 degrees for 45 minutes.  Remove foil and carefully taste the broth for seasoning, adding more sea salt and black pepper as needed.  Spoon the broth over top of the vegetables and seitan and return to oven, baking for an additional 10-15 minutes.
4.  Remove from oven, allow to cool for about 10 minutes and serve.
5.  Goes great with a fresh crusty bread and a nice side salad

Monday, December 6, 2010

Spicy Black Bean Tamales!

So it's after the Holiday's and after working like a madwoman making vegan pies at work and trying to keep up at home as well, the fridge is looking a little, well ... empty.  I told myself I would have to get groceries on my way home, there was no way around it.  Living in nyc and getting a bunch of groceries really does not go hand in hand -I get what I can carry in my arms on my way home from work, otherwise I would have to come home, get my grandma-cart and go back out into the frigid weather.  Not really going to happen after a long day at work.  Once I finished in the bakery today, I had pretty much convinced myself not to go out, the only thing stopping me was thinking of the hubby coming home from work and saying "leftovers again?" or "nothing to eat?".  Ugh.  Then I had a genius idea - I had a bunch of random veggies in my fridge and I always have dried beans, so why not tamales???  I have tofu sour cream in the fridge along with tons of other necessary condiments for tamales, and the Hubby LOVES them and wont mind eating them, even as leftovers.  Problem solved and I will go grocery shopping tomorrow!

Spicy Black Bean Tamales:

Tamales in Corn Husks



Corn Husks
Bean Filling:
3 cups cooked black beans
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large jalapeno pepper, minced
1 medium green pepper, small diced
1 large onion, small diced
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon chipotle pepper powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon smoked salt
1/4 - 1/3 cup hot water

4 cups instant masa corn flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cups vegetable stock (salted)

1.  Get started by soaking your corn husks in hot water.  This will take about 1/2 hour. 
2.  Prepare the black bean filling.  Place the cooked beans in a medium bowl.  In a large pan, saute the onions and green and jalapeno peppers in the 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Cook over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, or until beginning to brown.  Add the chopped garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.  Place in the bowl with the cooked beans.
3.  Mash the beans with the vegetables in the bowl until no whole beans remain.  Add all the spices and the 1/4 cup hot water and stir to combine.  Season to taste.  It should taste too spicy and slightly too salty - this will mellow out once the tamale is cooked.    Set aside while preparing the dough.
4.  For the dough, place the masa flour in a large mixing bowl and add the baking powder and sea salt.  Whisk to combine.  Add the olive oil and stock and stir to combine with a spatula or wooden spoon - it will be very thick. 
5.  Prepare a workspace - these are a bit messy.  Make a line of the soaked corn husks.  Take one of the smaller husks and shred into long pieces - these will tie the tamales.  Scoop 1/4 cup of the dough into the center of each husk, flattening with the palm of your hand.  Place 2 tablespoons of the spicy bean mixture in the center of the dough and slightly flatten with hand.  Working from the bottom, fold into center, followed by both sides.  Fold the pointy top in toward the center and tie with one of the shredded husk strips.  Set aside until at least half of the tamales have been finished.
6.  Place a large stock pot over high heat with a steamer basket opened in the center.  Place the tamales into the basket and cover with a tightly fitting lid.  Allow to come to a full steam.  These take about and hour to steam, but you can really stuff them into the pot.  They are finished when they feel firm to the touch, but keep in mind that they will continue to firm as they cool.  Remember to keep an eye on the water level at the bottom of the pot - you will likely have to refill it at least 2-3 times throughout the hour of steaming.
7.  Allow these to cool a little and serve them with sour cream and salsa with a little dash of sriracha - my favorite.  Or as my Hubby does with good old ketchup and mustard - how they were served on the beach while he was growing up in the Dominican Republic. 

*Note: These can easily be frozen by wrapping 2-3 in a cluster tightly in plastic wrap and placing them in ziploc bags.  This recipe makes a lot and it is so nice to come home and be able to quickly have some tamales ready to eat.  You only have to take them out of the freezer and steam them for 15-20 minutes or until they are nice and hot all the way through.

Tamales Opened with Vegan Sour Cream

These are amazing, enjoy!


Friday, December 3, 2010

"Shrimp" and "Crab" Wontons

Two of my favorite things to experiment with are seitan and wontons.  Baking, boiling, frying, simmering, stewing seitan - these methods all make me incredibly happy.  The same goes for wontons; stuffing, steaming, boiling, frying.  Yum!

A friend and coworker of mine was coming over and we were planning on a wonton making party.  I went to this amazing place called May Wah in Chinatown on Hester Street in Manhattan, which is nothing less than a vegetarian's paradise.  They sell everything from soymilk and tofu to vegetarian duck, salmon and everything in between.  And it all looks crazily real.  When I was there I couldn's pass up the vegan crab steaks and the vegan shrimp (one of my favorite things when I ate seafood).  On the way home I couldn't help poking the contents of the packages because they looked so realistic!  The plan was to make vegan shrimp wontons and crab rangoon, another thing I used to love getting at chinese restaurants back in the day.

Armed with two recipes for the "real" crab rangoon and shrimp wontons, I set to work creating vegan versions, which ended up being incredibly delicious.  When the Hubby came home from work and I told him I made shrimp wontons (remember he isn't vegetarian), he was so excited!  He inhaled about a dozen of the crab rangoon and two or three of the shrimp wontons before asking if I was sure there was really shrimp in the wontons.  Of course I couldn't  keep a straight face and admitted it was vegan shrimp.  He said they tasted amazing, just didn't have the texture of "real" shrimp, which I thought was just fine.  Here are the two recipes I came up with, along with a dipping sauce I made for the shrimp wontons.

Vegan Shrimp Wontons:

Wonton wrappers
1 16 oz. pkg. frozen vegan shrimp, thawed (see picture below)
1 1/2 tablespoons mirin
1 tablespoon shoyu
3/4 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup scallions, chopped
1 tablespoon arrowroot

1.  Place thawed vegan shrimp in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.  Remove and place in a medium sized bowl.
2.  Add the remaining ingredients: the mirin, shoyu, toasted sesame oil, black pepper, chopped scallions and arrowroot, stirring until completely mixed together - this is very important because the arrowroot needs to coat everything thoroughly so the ingredients stick together.
3.  Place about 1 1/2 teaspoons of filling into the center of each wonton wrapper.  Using a pastry brush or your fingers, dip in water and outline the four sides of the wonton wrapper.  Press two corners together, forming a triangle.  From here the design is up to you.  For these, I generally then take the two corners of the triangle, dot it with a little water and press them together.  While you are preparing the remaining wontons, be sure to cover the finished wontons as well as the unused wontons with a damp paper towel.
4.  Shrimp wontons are best either steamed or boiled.  Boiling is much easier and faster, so I generally choose that method.  These only need to be boiled for a matter of minutes until they float to the surface and the wonton wrapper looks cooked.  Drain and serve with the soy/ginger/garlic dipping sauce, outlined below.

Garlic Ginger Dipping Sauce:
1/4 cup shoyu
1/4 cup filtered water
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes.

1.  Mince the garlic and ginger - this is done easiest on a zester grater.  Place in a small bowl along with the shoyu, water and pepper flakes.  Stir until well combined.  Season to taste and remember that the garlic flavor will intensify as it sits, so be careful not to add too much.

Vegan Crab Rangoon:

Wonton wrappers
8 oz. tofutti non-hydrogenated vegan cream cheese
1/2 8 oz. pkg. frozen crab steaks, thawed (see picture below)
1 teaspoon minced red pepper
1 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon shoyu
1 scallion, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
black pepper to taste

1.  Take the cream cheese out of the refrigerator to allow it to soften while preparing the rest of the recipe.
2.  Place half of the package of the thawed crab steaks in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until chopped in uniform size.  (The rest of the crab steaks can be re-frozen.)  Remove and place in a medium bowl.  Add the softened cream cheese, red onion, Worcestershire sauce, shoyu, scallion, garlic and black pepper.  Mix well until all ingredients are coated in cream cheese.
3.  Place about 1 1/2 teaspoons of filling into the center of each wonton wrapper.  Using a pastry brush or your fingers, dip in water and outline the four sides of the wonton wrapper.  Press two corners together, forming a triangle.  While you are preparing the remaining wontons, be sure to cover the finished wontons as well as the unused wontons with a damp paper towel.
4.  There is no way around it, crab rangoon are best fried.  Place about 1/2" no taste oil such as vegetable or canola in a sauce pot over medium-high heat.  Once the oil is hot and ready (a small piece of filling will immediately sizzle and come to the surface), drop a maximum of 4-5 wontons in the oil, being sure they do not migrate toward one another.  Cook until golden brown on each side and drain on paper towels.  These are best served with a store bought duck sauce.  Best served piping hot!

                               Vegan Crab:                                                                    Vegan Shrimp: