November 13, 2017

Random food I loved but never managed to blog about

I'm going to start with a gargantuan salad, because I just had it yesterday, and haven't yet forgotten anything about it. It was as big as it looks. We had gone out to lunch with a bunch of vegan friends, and I wasn't feeling very hungry, so I ordered a salad. We were lunching at Next Level Burger, a very casual,  all-vegan, organic burger joint inside of Whole Foods. I guess I thought since the emphasis was on burgers, the salad wouldn't be a BIG deal. I must not have been paying attention. I ate about 1/4 of it, and we had most of the rest with dinner. I also ordered a delicious child-size vanilla shake. Everyone in our group  seemed pleased with their burger choices, and I have to give a special shout-out to the wonderful, very knowledgeable, staff. As for gluten-free choices, in case you were wondering, almost everything on the menu is gluten-free and you can equest a gluten free bun. Plenty of choices for everyone. Even the shakes can be made with either soy or coconut soft serve.

Here is a nacho bowl with homemade cheese sauce. Sometimes I'm just too lazy to look up a recipe (like, for cheese sauce) so I just throw things into the blender that I think will taste good, and it usually works. It worked this time, topped with green onions, and served over kidney beans, tomatoes and chips.

I love tahini sauce — I've been making versions of tahini sauce for more than 30 years. Sometimes I add lemon juice, sometimes miso, sometimes umeboshi paste, etc. Lately my husband has started making it — a lot. Here's a plate of noodles with air-fried tofu, roasted cauliflower, red peppers and tahini sauce. Tahini sauce. Did I mention the tahini sauce? Just kidding, Ken. You are getting seriously good at making tahini sauce.

We do love our noodle bowls around here, and I have to say having the air fryer has upped the stakes on the deliciousness of the tofu. It looks like the bowl contains tofu, shiitake mushrooms, cucumbers, scallions, carrots, peanuts and romaine — a Vietnamese bun salad — probably a version of this one.

The last one is a puzzle. It's a scallion pancake, obviously, and I vaguely remember trying to make a gluten-free version of this beloved favorite. I learned to make scallion pancakes long ago in a cooking class taught by a Chinese chef, and the pancakes were perfection. I sort of remember craving scallion pancakes, and trying to recreate them with gluten-free flour. I looked through the note pad where I scribble my recipe experiments, and I found one for scallion pancakes but there's no mention of whether it worked or not. Was it gummy? floury? weird? I don't remember. It looks good, though, doesn't it? If you feel like making traditional scallion pancakes, you can find the recipe here.

October 24, 2017

Red Curry Veggies

Red curry veggies. Photo by Andrea Zeichner.

Last month I reviewed Celine Steen's newest cookbook,  Bold Flavored Vegan Cooking: Healthy Plant-Based Recipes With a Kick. We had a great time trying out the delicious, intensely-flavored dishes, but at the time I wrote the review, I didn't have permission to post any of the recipes. I'm pleased to be able to share one of our favorites with you now — red curry veggies. (The recipe calls for eggplant, but I used zucchini.) I hope you'll try it and enjoy it as much as we did. If you want to know more about the other recipes we tried from the cookbook, you can read my review, here.

Reprinted with permission by Page Street Publishing Co. Photo by Celine Steen.
Red Curry Veggies
Gluten-Free. In A Hurry. Oil-Free

Have you noticed that different brands of red curry pastes vary wildly in heat and flavor? I bought one to make an earlier version of this curry and kept on havingto add extra paste to get some semblance of flavor. It's like purchasing a small jar of nothingness! That's why I decided to make my own (page 185) for the most reliable results. Note that a few testers made this using the store-bought paste they’re accustomed to. So fear not: it will work if you already have a favorite. You can always add more paste later, even after the coconut milk is added, so start with the lower amount of paste if you’re not familiar with its intensity yet.

Yield: 4 servings
  • 2 to 3 tbsp (30 to 45 ml) reduced sodium tamari, divided
  • 9 oz (255 g) trimmed and cut green beans (1-inch [2.5-cm])
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 red onion, trimmed and peeled, diced
  • 4 baby eggplants or 1 small eggplant (10 oz [283 g] total), trimmed and cut into thin half moons
  • 1 bell pepper (any color), trimmed and chopped
  • 1 to 3 tbsp (15 to 45 g) Red Curry Paste (page 185) or store-bought, to taste
  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) lime juice
  • 1 tbsp (5 g) dried shiitake powder
  • 1⁄2 tsp ginger powder
  • 1⁄2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1⁄2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1⁄2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 (14-oz [414-ml]) can unsweetened coconut milk or coconut cream
  • 1⁄2 tsp coarse kosher salt, or to taste
  • Cooked brown rice, legumes, potatoes, noodles or peas, for serving
  • Fresh basil or cilantro, for serving
  1. Place 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of tamari, the green beans, garlic and onion in a large pot. Heat on medium-high and sauté for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the eggplant and sauté until browned, approximately 4 minutes, stirring frequently.
  2. Lower the heat to medium. Add the bell pepper, curry paste to taste, lime juice, shiitake powder, ginger, cumin, coriander and turmeric. Sauté 2 minutes to toast and release the flavors, stirring frequently. Add another 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of tamari and sauté for 1 minute.
  3. Add the coconut milk, stir well and simmer until the veggies are tender to taste, about 8 minutes. Have a taste to add the salt if you feel it's needed.
  4. Serve on top of rice or other choice of grain or potatoes. Add a chopped herb of choice, and adjust the amount of tamari to taste.

Reprinted with permission by the publisher, Page Street Publishing Co., from Bold Flavored Vegan Cooking: Healthy Plant-Based Recipes With a Kick, written and photographed by Celine Steen.

    October 12, 2017

    My favorite granola

    The recipe makes two large pans of toasty, crunchy granola.

    In the fall of 2010, I was gifted several coupons for free, and discounted make-your-own-books on, and I had the great idea to create cookbooks as holiday gifts for my immediate family members. I already had loads of photos, recipes and text from my blog, plus I was a graphic designer — it would be a piece of cake, so to speak. In my excitement, I 'forgot' that all the photos were sized for the Web, and would have to be re-edited for print. The text had to be edited, too, and the Blurb software was nothing like the professional layout software I was used to. I was constantly frustrated by not being able to design the book exactly as I wanted, and not to have access to my favorite fonts. But, I worked day and night — literally — until I had produced a 120 page, lavishly illustrated cookbook. Good thing I had all the coupons, as the cost of buying one of the books at actual price is substantial. I just looked on Blurb to see if my book was still there. It is, and a paperback copy sells for $46.99! (Granted, Blurb did a fabulous job on the printing, and the paper is beautiful, but, seriously? Who buys a cookbook for $46.99?) They even have an online preview where you can look at every page of my book in miniature. (If you're curious ... just click on the book and the pages turn) I see that Blurb now offers a way to design a book with Adobe InDesign. It's also possible to create the book using whatever software you prefer, make a PDF, and use the PDF to print the book. I guess the PDF feature was available when I made my book, but I was too far into it before I realized the personal  limitations of the free Blurb software, and the thought of starting over when I found out about the PDF option, was worse than just finishing what I had already started. In spite of the huge amount of work, and the frustrations, the end result was worth it. Everyone who received a copy seemed pleased, and in spite of all the difficulties, I was glad I had done it. The Blurb software, while a bit frustrating to me, would be fine for someone not as invested in professional design as I was at the time. If you start now, you should be able to finish a book in time to give as a holiday gift to a special someone. It doesn't have to be a cookbook— poetry, photography, stories — anything, really. There are many more choices of personal online printers now besides Blurb, some of them much cheaper. Blurb will give you great results, though. They now even offer lay-flat binding — for a price.

    The liquid and dry ingredients are best mixed together by hand, as in, use your hands.

    My husband got out the cookbook recently to find something to make for dinner, and I started looking through it. I hadn't gotten very far when I found my old favorite granola recipe which appeared on this blog in March, 2009. It's been years since I've made, or eaten, granola, and I was eager to revisit the recipe. Another blogger I know had recently posted about making granola, and although I never got around to checking out her recipe, the word "granola" was etched in my brain. Granola. It just has a delicious ring to it.

    The recipe was just as good as I remembered, and I've been crunching it for breakfast all week. It's a breakfast that really satisfies, and keeps me full for hours.

    A bowl of crunchy granola with soy milk.
    Crunchy granola
    (updated recipe)

    • 7 cups rolled oats, GF if needed*
    • 1 cup hemp hearts (GF if needed)*, OR 1 cup hulled sesame seeds, OR 1 cup raw wheat germ
    • 1 cup raw cashews
    • 1 cup raw sunflower seeds
    • 1 cup raw walnuts, in halves or pieces
    • 1 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
    • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt (opt.)
    • 1 cup apple juice (I add 3-4 tablespoons of frozen apple juice concentrate to a one cup measure, and add water to make 1 cup)
    • 1/4 cup maple syrup (or agave syrup, or sorghum, or 1/3 cup rice syrup)
    • 1/3 cup almond butter (or other nut or seed butter)
    • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (opt.)
    • 1 teaspoon ground ginger (opt.)
    • 1 cup pitted, chopped medjool dates
    • 1 cup raisins (or 1/2 cup raisins and 1/2 cup unsweetened dried cranberries)
    • 1/2 to 1 cup non-dairy dark chocolate chips (optional, but, what can I say, recommended) (I used 3/4 cup this time)
    1. Mix together the oats, hemp hearts, cashews, sunflower seeds, coconut and salt in a large bowl.
    2. Mix the apple juice, sweetener and almond butter in a small pot and warm over low heat, whisking to dissolve the almond butter. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla, cinnamon and ginger, if using.
    3. Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. I used my hands for this because the spoon was too slow. Be sure to mix up the dry ingredients from the bottom of the bowl.
    4. Divide between two large baking pans and bake in a 325˚F oven for ABOUT 40-45 minutes. While it's baking, stir about every 10 minutes to toast evenly and to prevent burning. The bottom and edges will toast first, so stir them in.
    5. When it turns golden brown, turn off the heat and allow to sit in the oven about 30-40 minutes to continue drying.
    6. Remove from the oven and stir in the fruit. You will probably have to break up the dates if they are very soft. Let cool completely, then stir in the chocolate chips if you dare. (It's breakfast, after all. Be sensible!) If you do add chocolate chips, really let the granola cool well before stirring them in or the chocolate will melt. Yes, it will. I guess I didn't wait long enough because my chocolate chips melted. They still tasted great but the surprise of crunching on a chocolate chip was sacrificed for the taste of chocolate flavored granola. 
    7. Serve with your favorite plant milk. 
    *Bob's Red Mill sells certified gluten-free rolled oats and hemp hearts. Although neither item contains gluten, cross contamination can be a problem with oats and hemp for those with celiac or severe allergies.

    October 06, 2017

    Spicy hemp breakfast sausage - vegan, gluten-free

    From the air fryer.

    A few years ago, Nov., 2014, to be exact, I came across a recipe in Vegetarian Times for Spicy Hemp Breakfast Sausages.  I was intrigued. All the vegan sausages I'd ever made in the past depended on gluten, as in vital wheat gluten, for their texture and stability. The recipe used hemp seeds and masa harina to make the sausage dough. (You can find certified GF masa harina, and hemp seeds, but you can't assume all brands are GF due to contamination. Bob's Red Mill sells both.)

    Mashing the beans into the spice liquid to cook until dry.

    First you make a spice mixture, rehydrate the masa harina with some of the spice liquid, then stir in the hemp. Next you cook and mash the beans a little at a time with spice liquid until all the liquid evaporates, then you stir the bean mixture into the hemp hearts and masa harina. Refrigerate overnight, then shape and cook the sausage patties. I cooked some of the patties in my air fryer, and those were my favorites. The rest of the sausage patties were baked in the oven then frozen for future use. I baked them on parchment paper on two large pans, cooled them, then cut the paper into patty-sized squares and used the squares to stack the patties and pack them into a freezer bag. I've also cooked them in a small amount of oil on a cast iron griddle, and they turned out great. Yesterday, I reheated a frozen one in the air fryer, and it worked perfectly.

    Refrigerate the mixture overnight before shaping into patties.

    So, if I've been making these for three years, why haven't I ever mentioned them? Sometimes I question what 'easy vegan recipe' means. Does easy also mean instant? The sausage recipe is easy enough — anyone could do it — but it does take a little patience to work through all the steps. I never shared the recipe because I thought it might not fit with the 'easy vegan' theme, but it's so good, you might want to add it to your repertoire at least for special occasions, even if you consider it too much trouble for a regular rotation. I'm thinking of incorporating it into a Thanksgiving recipe, for example. The texture isn't the same as if it contained gluten, but the seasoning is spot on, and the taste and texture are great.

    Toasted Olivia GF bread, garden lettuce, hemp sausage, dijon, jalapeño-stuffed olive.

    As I mentioned earlier, the recipe originally appeared in an issue of Vegetarian Times, so I contacted the magazine to see if they would grant me permission to reprint the recipe. It took some time (a long time) to hear back from them, but they said no. That means if the magazine ever stops publishing, and takes down it's Web site, linked recipes will no longer be available. This has happened to me in the past when I linked to a recipe on a blog, so I prefer to share the actual recipe rather than a link. But for now, here is a link to the recipe. I'd rather share the actual recipe, but a link is better than nothing. The sausages are satisfying as part of a breakfast plate, or as a sandwich filling at lunch, or with veggies and a grain or potato at dinner. Do they sound like too much trouble? I admit, I'm often put off if a recipe has too many steps or requires chilling overnight, but this recipe makes a LOT, so you can eat some now and freeze some for later. You can also store the mix in the refrigerator for a few days, and fry some for breakfast each morning. This works especially well if you make just half a recipe. If you follow a gluten-free diet (or even if you don't) and have been longing for a sausage recipe, I encourage you to try this one.

    Note: I just want to remind people that although it's tempting, it's not okay to reprint someones recipe or photos as your own. You can share a list of ingredients, but not the directions. You can adapt a recipe, but changing one ingredient isn't enough. You can also create a new recipe based on one you admire, and say you were 'inspired' by the original. In all cases, you should link back to the original recipe. When I searched for the spicy sausage recipe, I was surprised to find it, including the original photo, on a few blogs, without so much as a link back to Vegetarian Times. One blogger merely changed the order of ingredients, slightly changed the directions, and took credit for the recipe. I also found a slight variation of the recipe using chickpea flour instead of masa harina. If you have questions about what the rules are for sharing recipes, you might find this post helpful.

    September 19, 2017

    Bold Flavored Vegan Cooking: cookbook review

    Once you start cooking from Bold Flavored Vegan Cooking: Healthy Plant-Based Recipes With a Kick, you will never complain about bland vegan food again. Whether you're looking to spice up your own diet, or prepare fabulous foods to impress omnivore family and friends who may think vegan food is boring, Celine's newest recipe collection will provide the recipes you need to create beautiful and seriously flavorful vegan food.

    Although not a gluten-free cookbook by any means, if you need your food to be gluten-free, (or soy-free or oil-free), Celine has you covered with clearly marked recipes and instructions that make it easy to find the kinds of meals you're looking for. In a hurry and need a fabulous dish you can make in 30 minutes? There are recipes for speedy, richly flavored dishes, too. In addition to instructions for creating the sumptuous dishes, there's a generous section called Staples, with directions for making homemade versions of, in Celine's words, "striking spice mixes, umami-packed broth, bright and tangy finishing sauces, and more." I admit to being someone who typically eats a pretty simple diet, and maybe you are, too, but when you are craving a flavor-intense meal, this is the book you need.

    We tried several of the recipes, and were not disappointed. The first one we sampled was Tamarind Miso Soup, and it was an eye-opener. The tamarind paste completely changed the flavor of the vegetable-packed soup from what we were used to. I wish my photo had turned out as well as the soup, but, unfortunately it did not, so words will have to suffice.

    Next, we sampled Smoky Kale and Chickpeas With Miso Peanut Drizzle. I think we've had this at least three times since receiving the book. Need I say more? Seduced by the great flavor and ease of preparation, we had to force ourselves to move on and try other recipes. I think this will become a standard in our dining repertoire. (You can find the recipe reprinted on The Vegan 8 blog.)

    The next selection was Five-Spice Teriyaki Bowl, served over gluten-free buckwheat noodles, and cooked by my husband. He must have neglected to read Celine's recipe introduction warning about the "warm, yet pungent licorice-like flavor of five-spice powder." She cautioned about star anise and fennel haters, of which I AM ONE, but he added the full two teaspoons of five-spice to the pot anyway. This was his first (and maybe last) time cooking with five-spice powder. It didn't end well. The dish was beautiful and 'fragrant', and even though I only had one mouthful before exhibiting intense irrational behavior, I could tell that others might find it excellent. My husband sure liked it. I've been trying for years to teach myself to like anise and fennel, but I'm not there yet. I could have enjoyed a quarter or possibly even a half teaspoon, but not two. Not two. Remember, you can always adjust the seasonings you're adding to a dish to accommodate your personal preferences.

    Last night I made Red Curry Veggies, and we loved it. One of the reasons I chose the recipe was because it featured green beans, and we had a bagful of fresh green beans from our son and daughter-in-law's garden. I also had a zucchini from my neighbor's garden which I used instead of the eggplant in the recipe, and a few pieces of leftover air-fried tofu from the night before which I threw in just because. The curry was excellent, and will probably show up at our next meal for company.

    I'm looking forward to trying more of the recipes from Bold Flavored Vegan Cooking.  

    Just a note: The cookbook has one of those nifty bindings that allows it to stay open while you use it.

    Author Celine Steen, is the talented writer, recipe creator and photographer behind the popular vegan blog, Have Cake Will Travel, as well as the author or co-author, and photographer of 12 vegan cookbooks including The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions, Whole Grain Baking, and Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day.

    Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher, Page Street Publishing Company. I was not paid to write the review. All opinions are my own.

    This post may contain Amazon links. 


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