December 30, 2016

Texas Caviar (black-eyed pea salsa) for good luck in the New Year

Just popping in for a few minutes to wish you a Happy New Year and share a recipe I've been making for New Year's Day for longer than I can remember. Eating black-eyed peas is supposed to bring luck in the new year. I first posted the recipe here in 2007, and periodically, when I can remember, ever since. We love it, and I'll be making it again this year, because, who can turn down the possibility of a little extra good luck. Especially now. And because it tastes great! You can find the original post, here.

In other news, if you have some free time over the next few days, I can recommend a few good movies we just saw. Both Fences and Jackie were terrific films, as was Lion, Fences being particularly profound. If staying home and binge-watching TV (while scooping up Texas caviar) is more your style, I highly recommend The Crown and Rectify. Rectify, just so you know, is incredibly intense viewing with extraordinary acting. We're currently binge-watching Last Tango in Halifax, and while it started out wonderfully pleasant, it's gotten a bit heavy-duty, though we still like it a lot.


Texas Caviar
  • 2 cans black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
  • 4 scallions, finely sliced
  • 3 jalapenos, minced. Use fewer if you don't enjoy  spicy food. If you hate heat, use a mild pepper instead of jalapeño. I use 3 and the spice is mild, in my opinion.
  • 1/4 cup dried (or fresh) tomato, chopped, or 1/4 cup sweet red pepper, chopped.
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, minced. If you dislike cilantro, use parsley. Tastes great with parsley!
  • 1/4 cup olive oil,
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Fresh ground peppercorns
  1. Rinse and drain the beans.
  2. Place the beans in a shallow glass (or other non-reactive) dish with the scallions, cilantro, dried tomatoes and peppers.  
  3. Put the oil, vinegar, lime juice and salt in a one cup glass measuring cup, and mix together. Add the liquid to the bean mixture and combine. Cover and place in the refrigerator for a few hours or a few days. Stir occasionally to distribute the marinade evenly. 
  4. Grind some peppercorns over the top just before serving.
  5. Serve with substantial chips for scooping.
I used jalapenos from last summer's garden. I always freeze bags of whole, hot peppers from the garden or farmers market to use in cooking during the rest of the year. This was the first time I tried to use them uncooked. Couldn't tell they weren't fresh.

Fresh squeezed lime juice makes a superior salad but I would understand if you kept a bottle of lime juice (like Santa Cruz organic) in your refrigerator for "emergencies." The beans will still taste great.

I like to rinse and drain canned beans in a wire wok skimmer that I got in an Asian market years ago because I liked the way it looked. It's easier to clean than my fine mesh strainers and holds about one can of beans at a time.

This is an old recipe and I'll probably revise it to use less, or no oil. I'll update  if and when I do. Also, since I now have an Instant Pot, and cooking beans from scratch has become more fun, I'll probably use dried beans.

This year's beans, marinating.


December 15, 2016

But My Family Would Never Eat Vegan: review and recipe for Maple-Miso Tempeh Cutlets

Printed by permission of the publisher, The Experiment.

So, vegans, have you ever had a friend tell you they would love to invite you for dinner but they have no idea what they could make? What they don't realize, is a lot of us feel the same way about them. We agonize over what vegan dishes we can make to appeal to our non-vegan family and friends. I feel pretty lucky that my non-vegan dinner guests have been extremely accepting (or at least they are good liars!) of my vegan cooking, but I still spend a lot of time thinking about what foods would be most appealing. If you're always trying to come up with tasty vegan foods for omnivorous guests, Kristy Turner has a solution for you. Her new cookbook, But My Family Would Never Eat Vegan, 125 Recipes to Win Everyone Over is filled with recipes meant to delight the non-vegan eater. Of course, we vegans benefit from her creativity, too! Not only are the recipes satisfying, the book itself is a beauty. It's easy to read, and filled with gorgeous photos by Kristy's husband, Chris. Follow my link to and 'look inside the book' for a generous preview of Kristy's compendium of general cooking-related information, as well as many of her recipes. Then order a copy for your bookshelf!

Photo credit: Andrea Zeichner

I sampled four recipes when I received my copy. The first one I tried was Kung Pao Cauliflower. I was craving Chinese food, and Kristy's version of Kung Pao "chicken" was mighty appealing. After enjoying the dish myself, I can easily see serving it to family; I can't imagine anyone not liking it. It's supposed to have green onion strands beautifying the dish as a garnish, but unfortunately, I took the photo before remembering to add the onions, so just picture it delicately graced with green onions. Delish!

Photo credit: Andrea Zeichner

The next recipe to catch my attention was Mushroom-Kale Skillet Hash. The end result was toothsome, but I had a bit of a problem following the directions for this one. The potatoes kept sticking to the pan, and refused to crisp up, even though I turned the heat down and added a splash of broth, as directed. They also took forever to soften — maybe I had mutant potatoes. I eventually decided to cook the kale in a separate pan and add it to the potatoes after they were finally cooked, because it didn't look like there was any way the kale would soften in that potato-filled pan. It all worked out in the end, and although I ran into a bit of trouble during the preparation, we definitely loved the final result.

Photo credit: Andrea Zeichner

My next delicious recipe adventure was Chinese Chickpea Salad. I may have taken a few liberties with some of the salad ingredients, but nothing major. It looks like I added some arugula, and used peanuts instead of almonds — and the original recipe was topped with crumbled rice crackers, which I didn't have. However, the basic idea of crunchy salad with cabbage, toasted chickpeas and miso-ginger dressing is what matters, and it was perfect.

Photo credit: Andrea Zeichner

The last dish I'll show you is Maple-Miso Tempeh Cutlets — I've even got the recipe to share. Tempeh is one of those foods that some people, even vegans, don't like, but, if there's one tempeh recipe that might tempt the recalcitrant, this may be it. It was wonderful the day I made it, and great the next day as cold leftovers. I'm thinking of bringing it to a family dinner this weekend. Either this or the Chinese Chickpea Salad — or both! Do you have a favorite dish to make when cooking for non-vegan family and friends?

Kristy and her publisher have allowed me to share a recipe with you, and I've chosen the fabulous Miso-Maple Tempeh Cutlets. I hope you'll try it. As I mentioned earlier in the post, you can see more of Kristy's recipes by looking at her book on Amazon.

Photo credit: Chris Miller. Printed by permission of the publisher, The Experiment.
Maple-Miso Tempeh Cutlets
Serves 4// Prep Time: 5 Minutes // Active Time: 20 Minutes // Inactive Time: 20 Minutes
Though it would be nice if the whole family were cool with you replacing the turkey or ham or whatever poor animal has to be the centerpiece of the holiday meal with something vegan, that’s not likely to happen. Not right away, at least. What we always do is bring along a vegan main dish that’s just for us (and the other vegans/vegetarians at the gathering). The rest of the family can still have their traditional main dish and you don’t have to sacrifice your lifestyle choice. Although I could bring a store-bought faux meat dish, I like to bring something homemade (I’m going to get far fewer jokes about some tempeh than if I’m heating up a “tofurkey”). These tasty tempeh cutlets, glazed in a savory maple-miso sauce, are best enjoyed the day they’re prepared. If you need to prepare them somewhat in advance, steam the tempeh and prepare the sauce so that all you need to do on the day of is cook the cutlets in the sauce.
  • Two 8-ounce (225 g) packages tempeh ¼ cup (60 ml) low-sodium vegetable broth
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) liquid aminos (or gluten-free tamari)
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons white soy miso (or chickpea miso)
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  1. Chop each tempeh block in half horizontally, then chop each half diagonally so you
    have eight triangles. 
  2. Fill a large shallow saucepan with a couple of inches of water and fit with a stea
    mer basket. Place the tempeh triangles in the steamer basket and cover with a lid. Bring to a
    boil, then reduce to a simmer. Steam the tempeh for 15 to 20 minutes, flipping the triangles once halfway through. Remove the steamer basket from the pan (keep the tempeh in the basket) and set aside. 
  3. Dump the water from the saucepan. Combine the vegetable broth, liquid aminos, maple syrup, miso, sage, and thyme in the pan and stir to mix. Add the tempeh triangles
  4. and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a low simmer. Let the tempeh simmer in the sauce for 10 to 12 minutes, flipping them once halfway through, until the sauce is absorbed and starts to caramelize. Remove from the heat and add salt and pepper. Serve immediately. Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 4 to 5 days.
For a killer Thanksgiving Leftovers Sandwich, slice one of the triangles width-wise so
that you have two thinner triangles. Use those in the sandwich.

Credit: Recipe from But My Family Would Never Eat Vegan!: 125 Recipes to Win Everyone Over 
© Kristy Turner, 2016. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of the book for review. All opinions are my own. The blog post contains Amazon links.

December 05, 2016

Tofu short ribs and other inspirational blog finds

Back (way back) in the old days — probably before you were born — before I was a vegan or even a vegetarian, back when I lived in upstate New York, I had a good friend who introduced me to barbecued short ribs. I'm not going to lie about eating and enjoying the ribs, though the thought grosses me out now, but we shared many a barbecued dinner in those short-lived, short-ribbed days. When I became a vegetarian, the short ribs did cross my mind, as I traded them in for a kinder lifestyle. Just recently, the very same friend made a comment about the ribs from our barbecue days, on facebook, in regard to my current dietary preferences. I'll never go back to my pre-vegan diet, but you know, when I saw a recipe for tofu short ribs on Isa Chandra Moskowitz's new blog, well, I had to make them.

The ribs before cooking.

They are preferably made from super firm tofu, but regular tofu can be pressed, and used instead. I had so much regular tofu in the fridge I couldn't justify buying more, so I got out my press and went to work. I don't have a tofu press, but I have a Japanese salad press. It works great but it's so old I worry about what might be in the plastic. I use it so infrequently these days though, that I hope whatever toxic chemicals are in there won't have too much of an impact. The ribs turned out great but I think the extra chewiness that comes with extra firm tofu would be even better.

I didn't follow the sauce recipe exactly, but it was extremely delicious anyway. I made half the sauce recipe but, as you can see, there was still plenty of sauce. I also left out the hoisin sauce because I didn't have any. What I did instead was look up recipes for hoisin sauce, and incorporate the main flavors into the recipe. The sauce was fabulous, in spite of all my changes, though I'm sure the original was even better. The other great part of the recipe was the gingery mashed root veggies. I used parsnips, turnips, carrots, yukon gold potatoes, and a chunk of leftover butternut squash, which is not a root, I know, but I hate to waste food, and it was in the fridge. I left out the coconut oil but it was still fantastic. I didn't realize how delicious root vegetables could be, and they were easy to cook in my Instant Pot. As a bonus, I steamed the turnip greens and served them on the side for a little touch of green. I highly recommend you try Isa's recipe! Now.

Another recipe I was inspired to try was one for baked, oil-free-gluten-free hushpuppies. Coincidentally, the same friend who had introduced me to short ribs, also introduced me to old-fashioned, deep-fried hushpuppies. I never deep fry anything, so was delighted to find a recipe for baked hushpuppies. I followed the recipe pretty exactly but my hushpuppies didn't turn out quite as beautifully as the ones on the vegan 8 blog. Nor did my photo come anywhere close to Brandi's wonderful images. My husband and I really enjoyed eating the hushpuppies, even if they weren't as pretty as the originals, but next time I may not roll them in quite as much coating, since the extra coating was a little gritty. I do want to make them again, though.

I needed a quick, easy dessert recently, and my inspiration came from right here on this blog. My granddaughter, who is very picky, has always been a fan of the walnut date confections I posted about back in 2010. The original recipe came from Chow Vegan. When I made them this time, I didn't look back at the recipe so I didn't remember it was supposed to have coconut, and be made with almonds. Ironically, I didn't have walnuts OR almonds, so I used 1/2 cup almond flour to 1/2 cup packed medjool dates, and one teaspoon vanilla. I also added a teaspoon of water to give the food processor a hand. I rolled half the balls in cocoa powder and half in coconut, then refrigerated the caramel-tasting treats for a couple of hours to firm them up.  I especially liked the bitter taste of the cocoa powder next to the sweetness of the dates. For a little extra burst of flavor, mix a bit of flaked sea salt with the coconut before rolling the balls in it.

I had another food item to post but I'm tired of writing so it will have to wait for another day. Enjoy your week!