Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Gluten Free Wednesday: Cheesy Cashew Pasta with Veggies

Happy Gluten Free Wednesday!  Sometimes when our day in the bakery is really busy, it's difficult to find time to eat, let alone cook.  However, I made a promise to myself and L that I would always make a delicious lunch every Wednesday.  The easiest thing to do when short on time always seems to be pasta.  Neither L nor I will ever complain about that though, because pasta means a sauce, and I am definitely all about the sauces! 

I got the recipe for this sauce out of a cookbook that I am slowly, but surely making my way through completing each recipe.  This is from Vegan Yum Yum, the recipe for Hurry Up Alfredo (just what I was looking to do!)  As you can see, this is definitely not an alfredo!  I was pretty disappointed when I started blending the ingredients, because clearly the sauce was going to be a bright yellow/orange color, not the pale white color of a true alfredo sauce.  Damn was I expecting an alfredo sauce!   It looks nothing like the picture in the book either, though I followed the directions.  (I have found that a lot of the recipes are not what I think the author had intended for them to be or described them to be, but with much tweaking, all the recipes have been tasty.)  Well we had to work with what was created, so I decided to change the name to a Cheesy Cashew Pasta because the cashew flavor was very pronounced and the sauce looked more like a cheesy one.  Although I was disappointed about it not being very alfredo-like, L and I both enjoyed the flavor, took extra sauce home, and made another meal very easily and quickly for the hubby, which he also liked.

Cheesy Cashew Pasta with Veggies:

Pasta, Blanched Veggies, Cashew Cheesy Sauce,
Balsamic Marinated Tomatoes

Serves 2-4

1 pkg. gluten free pasta - desired shape, cooked until al dente
veggies of choice, lightly steamed (I used baby carrots, kale, green & red bell peppers)

Cheesy Sauce:
1 cup unsweetend soymilk
1/3 cup, rounded, raw cashews
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons GF tamari
3 tablespoons Earth Balance
1 tablespoon tahini
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 pinch ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
pinch black pepper

Balsamic Tomatoes:
2 roma tomatoes, small diced, about 1 1/2 cups
black pepper and sea salt to taste
2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil

1.  Begin by bringing a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Cook the pasta until just al dente.  Drain the pasta using a slotted spoon and a bowl.  Do not drain the water - this will be used to lightly blanch the vegetables.
2.  While the pasta is cooking, prepare the sauce.  Place all the sauce ingredients in the jar of a blender and blend until completely smooth and lump free - this will take several minutes.  If it is too thick, you can thin it with some additional soymilk.  Pour the contents of the blender into a small saucepan and over medium-low heat, heat just until heated through. 
3.  To prepare the balsamic tomatoes, place the diced tomatoes in a small bowl and add the sea salt, black pepper, balsamic vinegar and oil.  Stir well to coat each tomato in the sauce.  Allow the flavors to marinate for several minutes. 
4.  To serve, place a serving of cooked pasta on a plate, followed by a serving on the blanched vegetables, the sauce, and finally the tomatoes, which have been slightly drained (if you put the marinated tomatoes and their marinade over top of the pasta, it will make a mess and have a strong flavor, so drain most of the liquid first).
5.  Serve!



Sunday, March 27, 2011

Forbidden Rice and Baked Seitan with Mushroom Sauce

I really do enjoy my job most of the time, especially all the people I work with.  As an added bonus, working for a natural foods store, we are able to get lots of samples.  When merchandisers have new product lines or simply new products, they always bring in tons of samples, trying to encourage us to sell their products/lines.  A lot of the time we cannot accommodate them because we have such a limited space, but that means we still get to keep all the samples.  Not sure about everyone out there, but I definitely appreciate some free food, especially when it's organic, vegan and sometimes raw! 

I receive samples and distribute them among the ladies in bakery at least once a week, and sometimes when I come home, I find myself looking in the pantry and seeing all this sample food, some of it a little strange, and requiring me to really think about what I am going to make out of it, which a lot of the time discourages me from cooking it.  I've had a package of forbidden rice (a black short grain rice from China) for about three months now and was struggling thinking of what to make with it.  I was browsing online and discovered that people make fried rice out of it using bacon, soy sauce, onions, etc., and frankly it did not appeal to me in the least.  I just wanted to make a basic rice dish.  I remember eating it once or twice before at the Natural Gourmet Institute at a Friday Night Dinner and really enjoyed it.

So I set off to make a nice dish to go along with a baked seitan I made.  I will post a recipe for the baked seitan on a later date, because although it came out okay, Hubby and I both agreed that it needed some work - definitely some more flavor.  Once I make it again and I like how it turns out, I'll give you guys the recipe.  However, for this meal, we decided to make a mushroom sauce that I will share, because the seitan was pretty plain on its own.  We both really enjoyed the meal, especially with the Forbidden Rice, which had a texture and taste similar to brown rice- a nice chewy, somewhat nutty flavor. 

Forbidden Rice, Baked Seitan with a Mushroom Sauce,
Steamed Carrots, Side Salad

Forbidden Rice

Serves 4-6

2 cups Forbidden Rice, rinsed well
1 medium onion, small diced, about 1 cup
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cups filtered water
1 1/2 tablespoons Better Than Bouillion, No-Chicken Base
Pinch sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1.  Place a medium pot over medium-high heat and add the olive oil, allowing it to heat.  Once it is hot, add the onion and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until fragrant. 
2.  Add the rinsed rice and cook, stirring regularly, until it is dried and the grains have separated.  Add the boullion, sea salt and black pepper and stir to combine.
3.  Add the 4 cups of water and turn heat down.  Simmer, covered for about 20 minutes or until cooked all the way through.

Mushroom Sauce

 Serves 2

3 tablespoons olive oil, separated
2 tablespoons earth balance, separated
4 cloves garlic, minced
7-8 large baby bella mushrooms, stems removed, rinsed and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons marsala wine
sea salt and black pepper to taste

1.  Place 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the earth balance in a medium saute pan over high heat.  Once earth balance has melted, add garlic and cook for about 1 minute.
2.  Add the mushrooms and continue cooking, stirring around in the pot continuously until they first wilt, then become crispy.  By now most of the oil will have absorbed.  Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to continue cooking.
3.  Add the marsala wine, being careful when pouring it into the pan.  Deglaze the pan - use your wooden spoon/spatula to scrape up any of the bits that have adhered to the bottom of the pan.  Add the salt and pepper to taste, turning the heat down.
4.  Once the alcohol has cooked out and the liquid has reduced halfway, add the remaining tablespoon of earth balance, allowing it to melt.  Season to taste.  Serve on top of seitan, tofu or tempeh.

The Hubby and I, like usual, were a little short on veggies, so we served steamed carrot slices with a salad and a homemade lime vinaigrette (our favorite!).  I'm sure this would be absolutely delicious with some sauteed kale or collards.  This meal turned out to be really delicious.



Friday, March 25, 2011

Eggplant Parmesan with a Kale & Broccoli Saute

Sometimes when Hubby is working or has a different schedule than I do, I have to try to cook for myself.  So much for the trying to cook for one this time!  I bought a large eggplant and even though the Hubby was not here, I was expecting to have someone over for dinner and planning on making Eggplant Parmesan.  Unfortunately, that did not work as I had planned, but I had already prepared and purchased all the ingredients I needed to make the dish and have been craving it for over a week.  When I was the Head Chef at this organic vegan restaurant in Brooklyn, I created this Eggplant Parm sandwich, which we ultimately ended up only making for ourselves for our family dinners because it was so labor intensive and unrealistic to make on a larger scale.  I remember it being amazing though, so searched through all of my old recipes, found it, modified it and ended up with Eggplant Parmesan over spaghetti.  It was so delicious that I ate about 1/3 of the eggplant, as well as a side of kale and broccoli. 

The recipe does have a few steps to it but they are so worth it and so necessary.  If you do not have the time or energy to make it in one night, you could definitely make the marinara sauce and pasta the night before and just reheat them.  I will definitely be making this again, and since I didn't listen to myself saying I need to cook for one, I'm going to pay for it by eating this for at least three more meals.  No problem - I'm remembering when I had so much lasagna left after making it for the Hubby and having him visiting his family in his country and being left with 2/3 of the lasagna, that I ate it for breakfast.  And damn was it delicious!

Eggplant Parmesan

Creamy Yet Crunchy (and delicious!)  Eggplant over Pasta

1 large eggplant, peeled and sliced into 1/2 " rings

16 oz. brown rice or wheat spaghetti, cooked till al dente

1/2 cup unsweetened soymilk
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed with fingers
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Bread Crumb Mixture:
3/4 cup breadcrumbs (use brown rice breadcrumbs to make gluten free)
1/3 cup Vegan Parmesan (1/4 cup each nutritional yeast and sesame seeds, 1 tsp. sea salt ground in coffee mill till fine, then measure)

32 oz. canned tomatoes, crushed with hands
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Kale and Broccoli Saute:

Crisp Broccoli, Fresh Veggies in a Tamari Sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 bunch broccoli, florets separated and stems sliced
6 large leaves kale, tough stems removed and leaves sliced
1/4 red onions, sliced into strips
1/4 green pepper, julienned
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons tamari
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1.  Begin by preparing the marinara: in a medium saucepan over medium heat, saute the onions and garlic in the oil until fragrant and lightly golden.  Add the tomatoes and lower heat.  Add the basil, oregano, salt, pepper, onion and garlic powder and stir to combine.  Cook till sauce has thickened and is fragrant, stirring periodically.
2.  In the meantime, prepare the veggies: bring a medium pot of water to a boil and blanch the veggies briefly till they become a vibrant green but maintain their texture.  Set aside to drain and cool.
3.  Cook the pasta and keep it hot. 
4.  Prepare the eggplant: set up a station - one bowl with the slurry, a second bowl with the breadcrumb mixture and a plate with the finished eggplant slices.  Heat a saute pan with a thin layer of oil and heat over medium heat until a piece of breadcrumb dropped in the middle immediately begins to sizzle.  Dip each slice of eggplant into the slurry mixture, being sure to press the center to allow the juices to penetrate.  Shake off excess liquid and immediately dredge through the breadcrumb mixture, being sure to get the top, bottom  and sides well coated.  Place on plate until ready to begin frying. 
5.  Line a plate with paper towel and once the oil is hot, begin frying the eggplant slices.  Fry for a couple minutes on each side, or until golden brown and fragrant - be careful that the bread crumb mixture does not slide off. 
6.  Finish the veggies: in a wok, add the oil over high heat and place the onions, peppers and garlic.  Cook till the garlic is fragrant, then add in the semi cooked broccoli and kale.  Saute for a couple minutes or until well flavored.  Add the tamari, toasted sesame oil and red pepper flakes, tossing to coat. 
7.  To serve, place a mound of spaghetti in the middle of a plate.  Top the marinara sauce over top, followed by the cooked eggplant slices and optional vegan Parmesan.  Serve the sauteed veggies on the side.  Yum!



Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Gluten Free Wednesday: Vegan GF Pizza!

Happy Gluten Free Wednesday!  As you know, Wednesdays are my days at work to cook for our department.  One of my coworkers, who works that day is gluten free, so I am always trying to think of creative things to make for us.  I remembered she said the day before that she was craving pizza.  There is a 99 cent pizza place a block away from our work and a lot of the employees go there to get lunch.  It's sucky walking by it and knowing you can't eat anything there because it's full of cheese, but it's even suckier not to be able to have it because you can't eat the dough.  She's really not able to walk into any old pizza place and order a slice because it has to be both vegan and gluten free, which is not really all that prevalent yet.  So, I was thinking I would find a recipe for the dough and just make in on Wednesday.  She warned me that doughs are generally pretty tough to make gf, but I have been experimenting with gf breads lately and was inspired by the challenge. 

I checked into one of my favorite gf blogs and found a recipe for pizza dough, and true to what my coworker said, it was very complicated and time consuming, so I found a recipe for flatbread and just followed that.  Honestly, the recipe freaked me out for a number of reasons and I was 50% convinced that it wouldn't work.  The recipe didn't contain xanthan gum, and every gf thing I have ever made has contained xanthan gum, even when it has yeast in it.  But, the recipe worked and worked quite well.  We each had two large slices and were very happy with it.  I'm thinking we will definitely be making it again soon!

Gluten Free Pizza:

Cooked Pizza with Melty Cheese

Makes 1 large pizza

1 cup millet flour
1 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1/2 cup potato starch
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed rosemary
2 1/2 teaspoons yeast
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon agave
1/4 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 cup warm water.

pizza sauce
chopped onions
chopped green peppers
sliced kalamata olives
1 tomato, thickly sliced

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
3.  Prepare the crust: in a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients: millet flour, sorghum flour, potato starch, tapioca starch, sea salt, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper, crushed rosemary and yeast.  Whisk until all ingredients are combined. 
3.  In the center of the dry ingredients, add the wet ingredients: olive oil, agave, vinegar and warm water.  Stir together using a spatula until just combined.
4.  Oil a pizza pan and press out the dough (you can sprinkle the pan with a little bit of cornmeal if desired.) until even all the way around, creating an edge crust if desired.  The dough will feel really funny and pull apart if you stretch it, but once the yeast is given a chance to grow, it will feel like a regular dough. 

This is what the dough looks like before it raises or bakes.
 5.  Cover the pan with the dough on it with a towel and place in a warm place.  Allow the dough to rise for 30-40 minutes.  Bake for about 5-7 minutes or until the dough feels slightly firm.
6.  Remove from the oven and spread the pizza sauce evenly over top.  Sprinkle the daiya on top and spread the toppings over the cheese as desired.  Return to oven and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the dough is baked all the way through, the daiya is melted and the vegetables look slightly cooked.

Pizza with all the toppings on the partially baked crust.
 7.  Allow to cool for a few minutes, sprinkle with your desired toppings (lots of red pepper flakes please!) and eat.  This is best eaten the same day, as the dough does not stay fresh for more than a day.



Monday, March 21, 2011

Twice Baked Potatoes

I love potatoes!  In every form and every variety.  White, purple, yellow, on and on.  I love them in every method - fried, baked, boiled, roasted, steamed.  Yum!  These babies are generally the base of many family meals that we make in the bakery and I always love them.  The Hubby is not as in love with them as I am, but he loves his mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes and especially his twice baked potatoes.  I remember the first time he tried them (remember, he is Dominican, so a lot of things that are common for us, are first-times for him), he was curious, but dug right in and declared them amazing!

I make them at least once or twice a month and every time I do, there are never any left for me to eat by the time I come home from work the next day.  Generally that's ok because since he is not vegetarian, he prefers that I put crumbled up turkey bacon and dairy sour cream in his potatoes.  However, I decided to make them at work for a family meal and as always, family meal is exclusively vegan.  I ended up making a ton, way too many and we were each able to take home some extra twice baked potatoes for dinner.

I am forever making too much of everything, which I am sure has to do with the fact that I grew up as one of 6 kids, and feeding that many mouths takes a lot of food.  My mum would always say that she cooked enough for an army, and that was definitely true.  Even though I am married and cooking for two, I cannot seem to get it into my head that I am not cooking for at least half an army, and always over cook and over bake.  So, I just bring in what's left to work and the girls and I get to enjoy them again.  Anyway, needless to say, I made a ton and this recipe makes a ton, but they are so delicious and will definitely be eaten up!  However, if you want, you can easily divide the recipe in half.

Twice Baked Potatoes:

Not so great picture taken at work, but damn delicious!

Yields: 6 servings

5 lb. baking potatoes, scrubbed and pricked over with a knife
1/4 cup earth balance
3/4 cup vegan sour cream
1/4 cup hot water
1 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon chipotle pepper powder
1 tablespoon tamari
2 teaspoons mellow miso
1 jalapeno, minced
1/2 bunch scallions, chopped
3/4 cup cheddar daiya, divided

1.  Place the potatoes on a parchment or aluminum foil lined sheet tray and bake at 350 degrees for one hour, or until completely baked through.  Cut in half as soon as you can tolerate touching them and set aside to cool.
2.  Prepare the rest of the ingredients while waiting for the potatoes to cool.  Once cooled, scoop the flesh from inside of the baked potato and place in a medium sized bowl.  Once all the potatoes have been scooped, mash the potatoes in the bowl.
3.  Add all of the remaining ingredients to the bowl with 1/4 cup daiya (reserve the remaining 1/2 cup) and mix thoroughly.  Season to taste. 
4.  Scoop the potato filling into the empty potato skins, smoothing the tops.  Place the filled potato boats back on the parchment lined sheet tray.  Sprinkle the potatoes with the remaining daiya cheese and bake in the same 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until heated through, daiya cheese is bubbly and the top is browned. 
5.  This is delicious served with a nice light salad.



Friday, March 18, 2011

Vegan Baking Basics: Muffins, Biscuits and Scones

This class was lots of fun but made me feel like I don't want to eat anything bready for a long time.  Whenever we have the classes, we never eat a whole piece of anything.  I swear after working in bakeries for so long that as you are making things and inhaling the ingredients, you are ingesting the sugar and flour as you go, and by the time you're done, you have no desire to eat anything you've just made.  Even eating a quarter of each piece of biscuit, scone, muffin, etc., I feel like all I want is veggies.  So strange! 

Anyway, we spent well over three hours making all kinds of amazing sweet and savory biscuits and scones and had a great time doing it.  It's nice to make something savory for a change!  Here is a list of all the items we made:

Carrot Pistachio Muffins:

Nice Blend Of Carrots, Pistachios and Spices

Multigrain Muffins:

Toasted Quinoa Gives These Babies a Nice Crunch!

Baking Powder Biscuits:

Light and Fluffy.  Perfect!

Savory Biscuits:

So Delicious!  Make Them!

Tomato Rosemary Scones:

(These were still baking when I left the ladies - so no pic!)

Orange Cranberry Scones:

I Love How They're so Tiny!

Jalapeno Cheddar (daiya) Biscuits:
(the best, but I forgot to take a picture of them!)

Savory Biscuits:

Yields 6-10 Biscuits

2 cups unbleached flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olvie oil
1 cup unsweetened non dairy milk mixed with 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
½ cup scallions, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped Kalamata olives
2 tablespoons chopped sundried tomatoes, rehydrated
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ tsp black pepper

1.     Preheat the oven to 37 5 degrees.  Line one baking sheet with parchment paper.
2.     In a large bowl, place the flour, baking powder and sea salt.  Whisk together until well mixed. 
3.     Add the oil, nondairy milk, chopped scallions, olives, sundried tomatoes, pepper flakes and black pepper and mix with a rubber spatula just until combined. 
4.    At this point, you can either scoop with a portion scoop, or place dough onto a well floured surface, sprinkle generously with additional flour and cut into circles. 
5.    Transfer dough onto the lined sheet trays and bake 15-20 minutes, or until lightly golden and the top bounces back when lightly touched.
6.    Allow to cool for 5 minutes on the sheets, then remove to continue cooling.

These make delicious breakfast sandwiches with scrambled tofu, melted daiya and a slice of tomato.



Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Gluten Free Wednesday: Oven Roasted Tempeh and Veggies

Happy Gluten Free Wednesday!  Today's lunch at work was a pretty easy choice:  I've found myself with tons of tempeh in my refrigerator again.  I'm not sure what's up with me lately, but I have not been in the mood for tempeh lately, or seitan for that matter ( I know, I know, not appropriate talk for Wednesdays!).  Come to think of it, I've not been eating a ton of "protein", even though I am sure I am getting a lot of it through the food I eat anyway.  I've just been wanting carbs and veggies.  Nothing wrong with that!  So, today I was craving something saucy like gravy, but was not in the mood for mashed potatoes and gravy, then thought back to this casserole-ish dish I've had a few times with chopped tempeh and veggies all baked in an herbed gravy.  Yum!  So, I set about making this dish, and besides all the prepping of the veggies, this dish was very quick to make and once everything was mixed together, it just went in the oven and baked till the veggies were cooked through.  Just keep in mind that the smaller you chop the veggies, the quicker this dish will cook. 

This is one of those nice hearty, comforty winter dishes where after you eat it, you feel so satisfied and nicely full.  And since it contains sage, it gives your home a nice, comforting, Thanksgiving-y smell.  It goes really well with a light salad on the side, and you meal's done! 

Oven Roasted Tempeh with Veggies

Roasted Tempeh & Baked Veggies in a Creamy Herbed Gravy

Serves 4-6

4 oz. tempeh, small diced
1 tablespoon gf tamari
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

3 medium red potatoes, unpeeled, small diced, about 2 1/2 cups
2 medium carrots, small diced, about 1 cup
2 stalks celery, cut in thirds down the middle and chopped, about 1 cup
1 medium red onion, small diced, about 1 cup
10 small baby bella mushrooms, small diced, about 1 1/2 cups
3/4 cup frozen green peas
1 jalapeno pepper, minced

3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup sorghum or brown rice flour
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/4 cup gf tamari
1/4 cup tahini
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
1 1/2 teaspoons dried marjoram
1 teaspoon rubbed sage
1/2 teaspoon crushed rosemary
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder
3 cups water

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a small bowl, combine the chopped tempeh with the tablespoon each of the tamari and oil.  Toss to coat.  Place on a foil lined sheet tray and bake for about 10-15 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed and the tempeh is emitting a pleasant nutty aroma.  At this point, remove the tempeh from the baking tray and place in a large bowl.
2.  In the meantime, begin preparing the gravy.  In a medium pot, place the oil over medium heat.  Once the oil is hot, add the flour and nutritional yeast and toast for about 2 minutes, whisking frequently.  Once the flour has turned a light brown, lower the heat and add the tamari and tahini.  Do not stir yet.  Now add the water and whisk until everything is combined and a thin sauce forms.  The gravy will thicken as it cooks.  Now add in all the herbs and spices: basil, marjoram, sage, rosemary, onion and garlic powder, black pepper and chipotle pepper powder.  Whisk to combine.  Periodically whisk the gravy and continue to cook until it is smooth and thick.
3.  While the gravy is cooking, prepare and chop all the veggies, placing them in the bowl with the cooked tempeh.  Once all the veggies are prepared, pour the gravy over top of them, plus the tempeh and stir all ingredients to coat. 
4.  Lightly oil a 9x13" pan and pour the gray covered mixture into the center.  Cover tightly with foil and bake for 30-45 minutes, or until a fork can easily pierce the potatoes.  (I find that if I chop everything pretty small, it takes about 30 minutes.)
5.  Remove the foil and allow to cool for at least ten minutes before serving. 
6.  Serve with a light salad on the side.



Monday, March 14, 2011

Twice Baked Potato Mash

I was feeling pretty adventurous for this meal.  Today is my day off and I generally like to cook and bake more complicated things when I do not have to think about being on my feet all day, then coming home and being in the kitchen all night.  Hubby had an appointment at a trade school in Manhattan, so headed out early without eating breakfast.  So, as he kissed me goodbye, he let me know that he was already hungry and would be very hungry when he came home.  After rolling my eyes good naturedly, I began preparing the lunch, because I was already hungry too and wanted some really nice home cooked food.  We had eaten out the night before, and had not eaten together the night before that, so I was really feeling like eating some nice, clean food. 

I knew I was going to be making some kind of tofu dish, so I went through the refrigerator, looking for things to accompany the Smoked Miso Baked Tofu recipe I was going to use from the Vegan Yum Yum cookbook.  The recipe is actually intended to be used in sandwiches, so I guess I shouldn't complain that I was disappointed at its lack of flavor, because I just served it on its own.  So, I'm not going to post that recipe, although I did make some definite modifications, and was still disappointed.  For the rest of the meal, I decided on doing a nice fresh red leaf lettuce salad, with just some sliced carrots and onion, with my homemade lime vinaigrette.  I also found about 1 cup of cooked beets in the fridge, so I decided to make my trademark marinated beet salad, topped with fresh garlic for bad breath and good heart health.  I had a few potatoes left that were just beginning to sprout and needed to be used and I was craving the flavors of twice baked potatoes, but not all of the work of baking the potatoes, scooping out the flesh, mashing and seasoning, scooping back in the flesh and baking again.  So, I just boiled the potatoes and flavored them as I do when I make the twice baked potatoes, and it was so! delicious.  Then I just decided to saute up some kale with a little garlic and was ready to feed one hungry hubby and wife.

Twice Baked Potato Mash:

Baked Miso Marinated Tofu, Twice Baked Potato Mash,
Sauteed Kale, Red Leaf Salad & Marinated Beet Salad

Serves 2-3

3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced, about 3 cups
1/4 cup small diced green peppers
1/4 cup diced orange/red bell peppers
1/4 cup small diced red onions
1 jalapeno, minced, about 2 tablespoons
2 tablespoons Earth Balance
1/4 cup vegan sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vegetable boullion powder
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon chipotle pepper powder
Daiya, mozzarella-style, as desired

1.  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
2.  Once the potatoes are peeled, submerse them in lukewarm water and place on the stove over medium heat.  Cook until just tender. 
3.  In the meantime, prepare the veggies: in a saute pan over medium heat, add the oil and allow it to heat.  Once the pan is hot, add the green, orange/red peppers, onions and jalapeno peppers.  Saute, stirring often, until partially cooked, yet still maintaining some texture, and not browned.  Turn off the heat and set aside. 
4.  By now the potatoes should be cooked all the way through.  Once they are, drain them in a colander over the sink.  Shake off all excess water.  Return the potatoes back to the pan and add the earth balance.  Mash the potatoes very well - there should be no lumps remaining.  At this point, add the rest of the ingredients, except the daiya cheese.  Add the sauteed veggies, the sour cream, boullion powder, black pepper and chipotle powder.  Stir everything together until well combined.  Taste the mixture.  It should be nice and rich and creamy with a slight crunch from the vegetables and a slight heat form the chipotle pepper powder.
5.  Place a piece of aluminum foil on a baking tray and mound the seasoned mashed potatoes on top, creating a nice, even layer.  Sprinkle generously with the daiya and place the tray in the oven.  Bake for about 5 minutes, just until the cheese is nice and melted and bubbly.
6.  Remove from the oven and try to let it cool for a few minutes before eating it - I know it 's difficult!  But so worth the wait!



Friday, March 11, 2011

Pot Pie Wrap

It seems like ages and ages ago that I worked at this awesome cafe called 'sNice in Park Slope, Brooklyn.  It was for such a short period, about three weeks, but was a very memorable experience for me.  The people in the kitchen and bakery are really great and everyday they were generous enough to treat me to a sandwich/wrap from the menu.  I was able to try so many things and have dreamt about them since I left.  The one item that stuck in my mind  - and the Hubby's evidently, because when I made it for dinner last night he told me how excited he was and how good it was when I brought half of it for him to try so long ago- was the seasonal Pot Pie Wrap.

This was so long ago and I don't remember everything that was in it; no one else online seems to be making anything like this, at least not a vegan version, because I definitely searched.  I do remember the one thing the bakery prepared for the kitchen was the pie crust - yes, pie crust INSIDE the wrap - it's like an inside-out pot pie!  We would literally make sheet trays of pie crust, bake it, then cut it into little squares, which would then make their way into the delicious wrap.  I'm not sure what 'sNice had in their wrap, but this is my version of their pot pie wrap:

Pot Pie Wrap:

Yields: 6 Wraps

Ridiculously Easy Gravy:
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup unbleached flour
1 1/2 tablespoons Better Than Boullion, No Chicken Base
3 cups filtered water
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Heat everything in a medium pot until nice and thickened, whisking frequently.

4 small potatoes, scrubbed and diced, boiled
1 cup frozen peas, cooked according to package instructions
1 1/2 cups seitan, pan fried
1 cup cooked pie crust, broken into pieces
Gravy as needed
6 Wraps

1.  In a medium bowl, place the potatoes, peas, seitan and pie crust.  Add enough gravy so that everything sticks together, being careful not to add too much or it will pour out when you take a bite.
2.  Heat wraps in a dry saute pan over medium heat on both sides until wrap is pliable. 
3.  Place 1/3-1/2 cup of filling in front center of wrap.  Fold towards center, with sides also folded in.  Continue folding wrap until a tight cigar-like bundle has been created.  At this point you can either cut the sandwich in half on the diagonal or eat it whole.  It is also delicious dipped in a small side of the deliciously easy gravy.  Yum!



Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Gluten Free Wednesday: Mac & Cheese, Roasted Portabella Mushrooms, Sauteed Broccoli & Kale

Happy Gluten Free Wednesday!  I really have given up hope of ever making moussaka at work.  I think because I spoke about it on several occasions, it's just never going to work.  I fully intended to make it last week, even packed everything to bring to work, but ended up getting a mild case of food poisoning.  Ugh!  Worst thing ever, and kind of makes me just want to eat at home, though I really do sometimes get tired of cooking every day at home after baking all day at work.  Anyway, earlier in the week L was talking about wanting pizza on Wednesday, which I have nothing against.  In fact, I was just discussing with her the fact that my favorite GF website just came up with a new pizza crust recipe, which I am excited to try out.

Alas, as I have pretty much convinced myself, whenever we try to plan or even talk about something that is going to be made on Wednesdays, it never works out.  So, as it turned out, I have a ton of GF pastas at home that I picked up really cheaply at the store several months ago, and really should use them up.  So, I brought a pack of pasta to work and improvised from there.  I made this sauce several days ago (to be posted later) for a kind of mac and cheese, and must admit that I was extremely skeptical at first, but it ended up being super delicious, amazingly creamy, and not so bad for you either.  Plus, it is both nutritional yeast and soy free, which I am sure will make some people happy.  I decided to serve it with some simply roasted portabella mushrooms and garlic-ginger sauteed kale and broccoli - it was so good!  The sauce is enough for two packages of pasta.  You can easily halve it, or save it for another day, reheat it and serve it over broccoli, potatoes, or anything else where you want a delicious cheesy sauce!

Mac & Cheese, Roasted Portabella Mushrooms, Sauteed Kale & Broccoli:

Mac & Cheese, Roasted Mushrooms, Sauteed Veggies

Serves 4-6

Mac & Cheese:

1 16 oz. package gluten free pasta (I used a white rice shell shaped pasta)
2 1/4 cup peeled, chopped potatoes, about 3 small
1/2 cup peeled, diced carrots, about 2
3/4 cup chopped onion, about 1/2 large
2 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup raw cashews
1/3 cup Soy Free Earth Balance
3 teaspoons sea salt (start with 2 and increase from there)
2 teaspoons minced garlic, about 3 cloves
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon prepared Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon chipotle pepper powder or cayenne powder, optional
2 jalapeno peppers, halved and thinly sliced, about 3 tablespoons - do not add to the sauce ingredients
GF Breadcrumbs, as needed - do not add to the sauce ingredients

Roasted Portabella Mushrooms:
4-6 portabella mushrooms, stems removed
olive oil, as needed
Sea Salt
Black Pepper
Onion Powder
Garlic Powder

Sauteed Kale & Broccoli:
1 head broccoli, stalks peeled & chopped, florets separated
1 medium head kale, thick stalks removed and leaves sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons small diced ginger
2-4 tablespoons GF tamari
1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Start by preparing the sauce.  In a medium saucepan, place the potatoes, carrots and onions and cover with the 2 1/2 cups of water.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until vegetables are very soft.  Place in the bowl of a blender along with the remaining sauce ingredients: the cashews, Earth Balance, salt, chopped garlic, lemon juice, mustard, paprika, black pepper and optional chipotle or cayenne pepper.  Place the lid securely on top of the blender and puree until completely smooth, periodically scraping down the sides of the jar.  Once completely smooth, season to taste and set aside until ready to use. 

The Pureed Cheese Sauce

3.  Next, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  This will be the water you will both blanch your vegetables in and cook your pasta.  Prepare your vegetables separately - the broccoli will take about 1-1 1/2 minutes to cook, whereas the kale will need maybe 30 seconds.  Once the water is firmly boiling, drop in the broccoli and immediately stir around with a slotted spoon.   Wait about 1 minute, then add the kale and again immediately stir it with the same slotted spoon.  It will reduce in size by at least half as soon as it hits the water.
4.  Use that slotted spoon to remove the vegetables from the boiling water and place in a bowl lined with a colander.  We want to keep the water boiling so we can start to cook our pasta in it right away.  Once all of the vegetables have been removed from the water and are draining in the colander, drop the pasta into the water, again immediately stirring.  My pasta took about 10 minutes to cook, but keep an eye on your pasta and stir it periodically.  We are going to be baking this pasta as well, so remember that it should be slightly less than al dente because 1) nothing is worse than an over-cooked GF pasta, and 2) the pasta will continue to cook in the oven and if it is al dente when it is taken out, that means it will be very overcooked once it comes out of the oven. 

This is the Uncooked White Rice Shell Pasta

5.  When your pasta has finished cooking, drain it in a separate colander and place in a large bowl.  Add about 2 1/2 cups of the finished sauce from the blender and pour directly over the pasta.  (This should be about half of the amount of sauce that you prepared.  The rest can now be stored in a container in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it for another dish.)  Add the chopped jalapeno peppers and stir the pasta until the sauce has completely coated each piece of the pasta.  Place this into a 10" baking pan that has been lightly oiled.  Smooth the top of the mac & cheese with the back of your spoon and sprinkle generously with the breadcrumbs.

The Mac & Cheese Before Being Baked

6.  Place the mac & cheese in the oven and cook until the top is nice and bubbly and the breadcrumbs have become nice and toasty.  (Now that I think about it, it would have probably been amazing to toss the breadcrumbs in a little melted Earth Balance and sprinkle them over top.  They would have become nice and buttery and toasty.  Oh well - next time!)

Mac & Cheese with Breadcrumbs After Being Baked

7.  Now prepare the mushrooms: Clean the mushrooms thoroughly and working quickly, drizzle some oil over both sides of the mushroom and sprinkle immediately with a small amount of the salt, pepper, onion and garlic powders.  Place on a baking tray (it doesn't have to be oiled because they mushrooms will release all of their juices as they cook) and bake for about 10 minutes on each side, flipping over halfway through.  Once softened and the edges become crispy, remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly. 
8.  By now your mac and cheese and mushrooms should be almost done.  You can now saute your veggies.  In a large saute pan or small wok over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and allow it to become hot.  Once it heats, add the chopped ginger and garlic and allow to cook for about a minute, or until fragrant, stirring frequently.  Add in the drained blanched kale and broccoli and saute for a few minutes, just until heated through and flavored (remember we already cooked them by blanching them in the hot water).  Lower the heat slightly and add the pepper flakes.  Toss to coat.  Add the tamari.  Begin with the 2 tablespoons and increase to the 4 tablespoons, as desired.
9.  To serve, place a nice helping of the baked mac & cheese on the plate and a helping of the sauteed veggies on the other side.  In the center, place the cooked portabella mushroom, which has been sliced thinly (it's easier to eat this way - you don't have to bust out the steak knives!)
10.  Eat slowly with a contented smile on your face.  Eat as much of the mac & cheese as you want until your belly is nicely and completely stuffed. 



Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Vegan Egg Rolls

I love egg rolls.  But they of course usually have eggs either in the filling, the shell or both, and generally have some form of meat inside, usually pork.  Yuck!  So, what else to do but make them myself?  So much better for you because you can control the ingredients, and so much more delicious for the same reason.  I have made these several times before, but I have never written down the recipe.  I usually just take whatever vegetables I have on hand that follow the egg roll theme and prepare them all before cooking and seasoning them. 

The last time I visited my parents, where all of my extra kitchen stuff is stored, I took almost a whole suitcase of stuff back home to ny with me, and I intend to keep doing this until all the stuff I love and want is in the same place I am.  Anyway, the last few years when I lived at home through my late teens, my parents would always buy me kitchen stuff for Christmas - it's all I ever wanted.  Every time I go back home, I keep finding new things I had forgotten I even had and getting excited all over again to discover them.  The last thing I found was a salad shooter.  I had never even used it back home, so I brought it here and have been using it pretty frequently.  Of course it does a lot of great things and is smaller and easier to clean than a food processor, so I have been mainly using it to shred things, such as the carrots and cabbage for this dish, but also for the hash browns I made for breakfast a couple days ago.  If you don't have a salad shooter or food processor fitted with a shredding blade, you can definitely use a hand held box grater - it will just take a little more time. 

The other great thing about this recipe is that it freezes well.  If you have a pack of vegan egg roll shells that contains 24, you can double the recipe, make the rolls and freeze them.  The easiest way to do this is to put them on a sheet tray lined with waxed paper with a small amount of space between them and freeze them for several hours, or until nice and firm all the way through.  Then you can remove them from the sheet tray and place them in a Ziploc bag, label them and keep them frozen for several months, although I am sure they will be long gone by then!

Egg Rolls: (Egg Free of Course!)

Perfectly Browned Outside, Warm & Delicious Inside!

Yields 11-12

12 egg free egg roll wrappers

2 tablespoons canola oil
6 cups shredded cabbage, about 1 medium head
1 1/2 cups shredded carrots, about 3 medium
1/2 cup snap peas, julienned
4 green onions, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons shoyu/tamari
1 tablespoon sherry
1 tablespoon mirin
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1.  Shred the carrots and cabbage first.  Place the oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat and once the oil heats, add the cabbage, carrots and julienned snap peas.  Cook, stirring often, until the cabbage wilts and becomes about half the size.  This may take about ten minutes.  Add in the scallions and garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes until fragrant. 
2.  Add in the shoyu or tamari, sherry, mirin, sea salt and black pepper.  Stir until all the ingredients are well incorporated.  Continue to cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, or until some of the wetness in the cabbage evaporates.  Turn off the heat and place the hot cooked cabbage mixture onto a sheet tray in an even layer so that it cools quickly. 
3.  If you plan on cooking the egg rolls today, now is the time to get a medium pot out and fill it with about an inch of no taste oil, such as canola.  Do not turn on the burner quite yet, just have it ready.
4.  Get an assembly line ready: have your cooked cabbage mixture, the egg roll wrappers, a small bowl of cold water to seal the wraps, a 1/4 cup measuring cup to scoop the mixture into the shell, a towel to put beneath the wrap and a clean baking tray that has been lined with waxed paper. 
5.  Let's get started on the fun part!  Place one of the wraps with a corner pointing towards you - it should look like a diamond.  Dip your fingers in the water and trace your wet fingers along the four corners of the wrap - this will help the wrap seal once it is rolled up.  In the very center, place a little less than 1/4 cup of the filling.  Use your hands to mold it into a rectangle shape.  Starting at the bottom corner of the diamond, roll towards the center of the filling and tuck under the filling.  Bring the two sides in and tuck them in as well.  Now, start rolling the wrap towards the other end, folding  in the sides as you go, and remembering to keep the whole thing nice and tight.  When you're done, it should look like an egg roll!  Of course, they will only get better the more you make and boy are they delicious!
6.  If you are going to cook them today, heat the oil you prepared in step 3.  Turn the heat on medium.  The oil is ready when you drop a piece of the cooked cabbage in the center and it immediately comes to the surface and starts bubbling. 
7.  CAREFULLY place the egg roll into the oil - the oil will start bubbling like crazy - this is normal.  Allow the egg roll (or rolls- you can cook two at a time - any more and the temperature of the oil will decrease too much and your rolls will be oily) to cook for a couple minutes on each side, or until the outside is nicely golden.  If your rolls are getting brown too quickly, turn the temperature down. 
8.  Drain these bad boys on paper towels and serve immediately with additional shoyu or tamari and duck sauce.  These are seriously damn delicious!
9.  If you want to freeze these, follow the instructions in the introduction.

All of the Egg Rolls, Prior to Frying



Saturday, March 5, 2011

Cucumber, Carrot & Avocado Sushi

I love me some veggie sushi!  At work several days ago, it was one of my coworkers days to cook and she decided to make sushi.  It was so simple and seriously delicious.   Unfortunately, I think she underestimated how much we could eat, and only served us each four individual slices.  We ate them so slowly, enjoying each bite.  She served it a little differently than I have had before, with the wasabi mixed in with the tamari.  I usually serve the tamari and wasabi separately, but it was so delicious!

When I went home that night, I was so hungry for more sushi that I decided to make it for dinner too.  Unfortunately, when I opened my wasabi container in the pantry, I discovered that it was old and didn't possess any of the heat that is should.  I had everything else - the nori sheets, the pickled ginger and the rest of the ingredients, but not the wasabi, which to me is one of the most important parts!  Alas, I had to wait till the next day to make it because there are no places in my neighborhood in Brooklyn where I could buy that, and there was no way I was going to hop on the train and trek to a far away store for a small container of wasabi.  So, the next day I made the sushi and it was so delicious that I ate two whole rolls!   Yum!  This is something that would be great to make when you have friends over - you could make a party out of it!

Cucumber, Carrot & Avocado Sushi:

If I Had the Time, I Would Make & Eat This Every Day!

Makes 4-5 Rolls

Sushi Rolling Mat
5 Nori Sheets
1 Avocado, sliced thinly
1 carrot, peeled and julienned
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and julienned
Tamari/shoyu to dip
Wasabi powder/paste
Pickled Ginger

Sushi Rice:
1 1/2 cups short grain rice
3 cups warm water

1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons agave
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1.  To begin, make the sushi rice.  Place the dry rice in a strainer and rinse the rice until the water runs clear.  Place in a medium pot and cover with the 3 cups of water.  Cover the pot with a lid and bring ingredients to a simmer.  Cook for about 20 minutes, or until water is absorbed and rice is tender.  Once is has finished cooking, turn the heat off and allow the rice to continue steaming for 5 minutes with the lid on. 
2.  Once the rice has steamed, remove the lid and get together the remaining ingredients for the rice: whisk together the agave, rice vinegar and salt in a small bowl and pour over top of the rice.  Mix the vinegar mixture into the rice until it is all incorporated.  Now, scoop the rice onto a clean, dry sheet pan and spread out evenly.  This will allow the rice to cool faster. 
3.  While the rice is cooling, you can prepare the rest of the ingredients.  Prep all of the vegetables and place them on a large plate in separate piles.  Get three small ramekins or mini bowls and place a small amount of tamari/shoyu in one, a generous amount of pickled ginger in the second, and in the last, place the wasabi paste, or if you are using powder, mix with a desired amount of filtered water until a paste is formed.  You can bring these three components to your table - they are ready for serving. 
4.  Fill a small bowl with warm water - this is for dipping your hands and fingers while you are making the sushi.  By now, the rice should have cooled sufficiently.  Lay your sushi rolling mat on the counter in front of you.  Place once nori sheet on the mat, shiny side down.  Use a cup to measure 1 cup of the prepared rice.  Place the rice in the center of the nori sheet, and dip your hands and fingers in the bowl of warm water, shaking off the excess.  Press the rice all over the entire surface of the nori sheet, stopping about 1/2" from the very top.  The rice should evenly cover the surface.  Toward the bottom of the rice covered nori, place about 4 strips of each prepped veggie, starting with the flattest one.  This is the tricky part, but it really gets easier the more you do it.  Roll from the bottom to the top, using the mat to guide you.  Once you get past rolling the vegetables, it is easier.  Right before you get to the very top, where you have left about 1/2" free of rice, use your fingers, dipped in the water, to moisten the top.  Continue rolling the nori roll and press firmly onto the moistened portion - this will help seal the nori roll together.  Set the roll aside, seam side down and continue with the remaining rice, nori and vegetables. 
5.  Now it is time to cut the rolls into individual pieces.  Use your longest, sharpest knife here - it is very important that it is sharp.  Carefully slice the roll in half down the center - this makes it easier for portioning purposes.  Slice off each of the ragged ends - these pieces you should eat yourself - don't put them amongst the pretty pieces you serve.  Continue slicing the rolls.  Each roll should be sliced into 6 pretty circles, with the two jagged end pieces remaining. 
6.  Arrange the rolls prettily on a plate and serve with the three ramekins you prepared earlier.  I like to spread a super thin amount of wasabi on each piece, top with lots of ginger and dip in the tamari.  So delicious and if you're like me, you'll end up with your sinuses on fire and cleared for a good week, your belly nice and lightly happy.  And wanting to eat these every day of the week!  They are so much cheaper and healthier for you to make at home because you can really control the ingredients and make them the way you really like. 



Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Gluten Free Wednesday: Mofongo with Vegan Chicharrones

Happy Gluten Free Wednesday!  The dish I made today was out of this world good and of course was all about Spanish food!  Plantains are so delicious and always make me happy.  I love them green or yellow, mashed or fried.  Yum.  I recall going with the hubby early on in our relationship to this place called Casa del Mofongo in Washington Heights and waiting in line for such a long time - well over an hour.  I was suspicious at first, especially when I saw then menu, which included everything from pork, chicken, beef and shrimp mofongo, all the way to lamb and lobster mofongo.  Ugh!  They did have a "vegetable"  mofongo, served with the least pleasing of all veggies when steamed: cauliflower and broccoli, but the mofongo itself was so delicious it didn't matter. 

Mofongo, for those of you that do not know, is a super delicious dish made of fried green plantains that have been mashed, with garlic, hot stock, generally seasoned with chicharrones, deep fried pig skin (I know!), molded into a circle and ladled with hot stock on top and around the outside.  This allows you to dip each bite into the stock for an extra bit of salty goodness.  In my case, thanks to my new favorite cookbook Viva Vegan, I was able to make this dish with, can you imagine it, vegan chicharrones?!  Vegan deep fried pork skin - or something similar in flavor anyway.  Now I have of course never before had the real version, so I do not know if it tasted similar or not, but all I know is that the bits of chewy, smoky goodness were such an awesome addition and made the dish so delicious! 

This dish is a little involved, but it is so worth it.  You don't have to prepare the chicharrones if you don't want to, but they definitely add a nice crunchy, smoky bite.  You absolutely can make them up to a few days in advance, but  just keep in mind when you make them, they require frozen tofu, which needs to be frozen for at least a day, then completely thawed before being used.

Mofongo with Vegan Chicharrones:

Serves 2
The Most Delicious Thing in the World!

Vegan Chicharrones:
1 pkg. firm tofu, frozen for at least 24 hours, then thawed
3 tablespoons gf tamari
1 tablespoon liquid smoke
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon sherry/champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon agave
Canola oil for frying

2 green plantains, peeled
(oil to fry plantains as tostones)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 recipe chicharrones
1 cup no-chicken broth, prepared with no-chicken boullion, or preferred boullion, separated
Sea salt and black pepper to taste

1.  Begin by preparing the chicharrones.  Squeeze as much water as possible out of the thawed tofu - it will have the texture of a sponge.  Break the tofu into pieces about 1/2"-3/4" big.  They absolutely do not have to look pretty or be too uniform in size.
2.  In a medium bowl, add the tamari, liquid smoke, garlic, vinegar and agave.  Whisk together until well combined.  Add the broken up pieces of tofu and toss to coat with mixture.  It is important not to handle them too much or they will break.  Toss them around in the bowl until all the marinade has been absorbed.  Allow them to marinate for at least 20 minutes.
3.  Place about 1" of oil into a medium saucepan and heat until a small piece of the tofu dropped into the oil immediately comes to the top and starts rapidly bubbling.
4.  Once the oil is sufficiently hot, place half of the marinated tofu carefully into the oil and immediately stir it around.  The liquid in the mixture will cause it to sputter quite a bit, so be sure to take a safe step back.  Here it is important to handle the tofu as little as possible and just allow it to fry.  It will take a good 5-7 minutes of frying.  You want it to be nice and browned, chewy and crispy.  Drain with a slotted spoon onto a paper towel lined plate.  Repeat with the remaining marinated tofu. 
5.  Allow the chicharrones to cool completely before storing.  Once completely cooled, they will easily keep for 1-2 weeks in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator. 

Vegan Chicharrones! Yes, there is such a thing!

6.  Prepare the tostones (twice fried green plantains).  In a large saute pan, heat about 4 tablespoons of no-taste oil over medium-high heat.  While the oil is heating, slice the peeled plantains into slices on the diagonal, about 1/4"-1/2" thick.   Place in the hot oil and fry on both sides for about 45 seconds each.  You will probably have to do this in two batches. Place on a piece of parchment paper lining your cutting board and allow to cool for a minute or two (the parchment paper is so that clean-up is made easy and oil doesn't get all over the place).  While it is cooling, fry the remaining plantains.  Take a glass jar and press firmly on each of the fried plantains until they are flattened.  Place once again in the hot oil and fry again on both sides until golden and crispy, another 45 seconds per side.  Allow the plantains to drain on a plate lined with paper towels. 
7.  Now prepare the mofongo.  In a medium saucepan, heat the 1 tablespoon olive oil and allow to heat over medium heat.  Once the oil is hot, add the garlic and saute for about a minute, or until it is fragrant and golden.  Turn off the heat.  In a small saucepan, prepare the un-chicken stock and keep it at a firm simmer.  Add the tostones to the sauteed garlic and using a pastry cutter or very strong potato masher, mash until desired texture is achieved.  This may take a while.  Add 1/2 cup of the simmering broth, sea salt and black pepper and continue mashing the liquid into the tostones.  Season to taste.  Stir in the chicharrones.  Taste again and sigh in bliss.
8.  To serve, take a small mug or other circular object and scoop half of the mixture inside, pressing firmly.  Unmold the mofongo onto a plate with a depression in the center.  Ladle the hot broth around the outside of the mofongo and dig in!  Repeat this with the remaining mixture on a separate plate.  Scoop a small amount of the broth onto the spoon with each bite of the mofongo and consume in bliss.  Seriously so delicious, and to my way of thinking, even though it is not great for you, having it a couple times a year isn't such a bad thing and really makes the belly happy.  (As a bonus, the hubby said it tastes 99% like "real" mofongo - which is an amazing compliment coming from a Dominican that has eaten this all his life!)