November 28, 2017

Thanksgiving was delicious - for days

We had 10 people at the Thanksgiving table this year, including three children, and enough food for about 10 more, but I love Thanksgiving leftovers. On Friday one of our sons came for dinner, and we had leftovers — after my husband and I had already had leftovers for breakfast and lunch. We had leftovers on Saturday and Sunday (breakfast and lunch) too, and I finally finished them off on Monday. Understand that I'm not complaining — as I said, I love leftovers — and am sad that they won't be available tomorrow. We had a lot of food, but I'm happy to say we didn't waste any.

What you see above is our turkey. I found a photo of the veggie turkey online a few years ago and finally remembered to construct it this year. I wish I could remember exactly where I found it, but you can view the photo here. It served as one of the appetizers along with homemade hummus and smokey cheese dip.

Our daughter-in-law brought a large plate of fabulous pickled vegetables as an appetizer as well.

And a bowl of olive tapenade — my favorite. I love tapenade!

One son brought a bowl of chili lime popcorn as an appetizer, and it completely disappeared. Everyone came early so there was plenty of time to nosh before the main meal, and we made quite a dent in the offerings.

From the main Thanksgiving feast, I can only show you some of the food because, as is often the case, I forgot to take photos of everything. There are no photos of the potato stuffing, a fabulous family favorite recipe that originally came from Russia with my great grandmother, and none of the 'main dish', the wild rice pilaf, or the miso gravy, or the savory white bean casserole. One of our sons made the stuffing and beans, and I made the pilaf and gravy. The pilaf was fluffy with wild rice and brown rice and stuffed with mushrooms, onions, garlic, toasted walnuts, air-fried brussels sprouts, peas, celery, soy curls, herbs and spices. I used parsley, sage and rosemary from the garden. The curls were marinated overnight in some of the gravy, and liberally seasoned with granulated onion and garlic as well as chili lime spice from Trader Joe's, then baked a bit before being added to the pilaf and baked in the oven.

I made my usual cranberry compote, which is a favorite with the kids. It's a delicious and easy side dish that can be made the day before, and I recommend it. You can vary the contents to suit your personal tastes, and it cooks itself in a slow cooker while you do other things. (Recipe at end of post.)

New to this year's Thanksgiving table was aloo palak pie in a mashed potato crust — a recipe from Pies and Tarts With Heart by Dynise Balcavage. (I reviewed the book in 2013 when it was first published; you can read the review here if you want to know more about Dynise's cookbook.) I loved, loved, loved the tart, and can't wait to make it again. Because I had permission to publish the recipe when I wrote the review, I'm going to hope and assume I still have permission, and will include it at the end of the post.

Roasted Brussels sprouts and butternut squash was my husband's beautiful and tasty contribution to the meal. We made the preparation of the dish much less time consuming by purchasing already cubed squash. Believe it or not, this was the first time we've bought pre-cut squash, but it certainly won't be the last. What a time-saver —tossed with a little oil and salt, and roasted to caramelized perfection.

Since I failed to photograph the rest of the main course, let's just move on to dessert. Of course there was pie — this year it was sweet potato pie. I used the same recipe I used last year for voluptuous pumpkin pie from Isa Chandra Moskowitz, except I used sweet potatoes, and only two (not four) teaspoons of oil. Because sweet potatoes are more dense than pumpkin or squash, it  required a bit more soymilk. It's a great pie, and easy to make. I always garnish my pie with chocolate chips.

In addition to pie, there was cake. I saw a recipe for chocolate chip pumpkin date bread on Keepin' it Kind, and after reading the story of Kristy's grandmother's famous date nut bread, I got out my copy of But My Family Would Never Eat Vegan, and looked up the original recipe. I didn't want a second pumpkin dessert since one of our guests isn't a fan of pumpkin or cinnamon. I'm not a big fan of nuts in cake, so I decided to use the original recipe from the cookbook, subbing the chocolate chips from the blog recipe, for the walnuts. (I was also planning to add dried cranberries, but forgot.) Not only was the cake dangerously delicious, it kept getting better and better each day. Go make the pumpkin date bread — you won't be sorry. (My review of Kristy's cookbook can be found here. It's filled with delectable dishes, some of which have become staples at our house.)

I hope you had a happy thanksgiving. Here are the recipes I promised for cranberry compote and spinach pie. Just a note: when I made the pie I used three, five-ounce packages of fresh baby spinach for the pie filling.

Quarry Books has graciously allowed the recipe for Aloo Palak Pie to be reprinted. It is copyrighted material. Please do not reproduce without permission from the publisher.

Aloo Palak Pie with Mashed Potato Crust

Mashed Potato Pie Crust (one 9-inch crust)
We usually think of vegetables as pie filling and not pie bases. But I like to flip things upside down on occasion. Some vegetables, like the potato family, make wonderful savory crust bases. Carbolicious and comforting, mashed potato crusts are economical and an interesting way to transform leftovers into a literal meal base. You can use mashed white potatoes, sweet potatoes, or even mashed turnips or rutabagas. Or mix and match.

  • About 5 potatoes, peeled and baked, or "nuked"
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons (28 to 42 g) margarine
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons (30 to 60 ml) nondairy milk (to bind, if needed)
  • ½ teaspoon salt or more, to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Place the potatoes in a large bowl. Mash with the margarine and milk until creamy. (Use a potato ricer to save time!) Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Aloo-Palak Pie
Aloo palak without ghee is one of the darlings of vegan Indian cuisine lovers. This 'reconstructed' version uses all the flavors of aloo palak that you love, in an unexpected pie presentation. It’s loaded with vitamins and it’s cheaper than takeout.

(Makes one 9-inch (23 cm) tart)
For Spinach Filling:
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 to 1½ teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon red hot pepper flakes (optional, but I use the full Monty!)
  • 7 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon salt
  • 12 cups (360 g) roughly chopped, trimmed spinach or baby spinach, preferably organic
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC, or gas mark 4).
  2. Press the crust into the pan. Set aside.
  3. To make the filling: In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the spices, then the garlic and onion, and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with salt if the mixture starts to dry out.
  4. Add one-fourth of the spinach, let it wilt, stir, and repeat until all of the spinach is in the pan. 
  5. Cook for about 10 minutes. Spread into the crust.
  6. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until firm. Let cool for 15 minutes before slicing.
Full disclosure: I received a free review copy of the book. All opinions are my own. I was not paid for my review.

Cranberry compote in the slow cooker  
Adapted from Autumn Fruit Crock in Fresh From the Vegan Slow Cooker, by Robin Robertson, and memories of my mother's and grandmother's kitchens.
I think of the recipe as a 'guideline' rather than a 'recipe' because although  this is close to what I did — I used two pears and one apple this time —you can do pretty much what you want, and adjust it to your preferences. I believe my mother always added pineapple chunks to hers. I like my cranberries tangy, but feel free to make them as sweet as you wish. This is a great dish to serve anytime, any holiday — all fall and winter. You can change up the type and quantity of the fruit except maybe for the cranberries, though I recommend keeping the mango as it adds natural sweetness, and goes so well with the cranberries. Leftovers are great for breakfast with yogurt or oatmeal.
  • one-14oz box of fresh cranberries
  • two medium baking apples
  • one ripe pear
  • handful of dried apricots
  • handful of prunes or raisins
  • one cup of cut frozen mango or fresh mango
  • 1/4 cup (or more or less, to taste) dark sugar (I used coconut sugar)
  • 1/2 cup frozen orange juice concentrate
  • two tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • one cinnamon stick 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • one teaspoon vanilla
  1. Dice all the fruit (except cranberries and raisins, if using) to approximate size of cranberries. I didn't peel my fruit.
  2. Add all ingredients, except vanilla, to a slow cooker.
  3. Cook on low 5-1/2 to 6 hours, until fruit is soft. (Depending on what variety of apples you choose, the apples may retain some firmness.)
  4. Stir in the vanilla and taste for sweetness.
  5. Chill before serving. Can be made the day before needed. Thickens more as it cools.
My compote turned out nice and thick, but if yours doesn't, cook a short while longer without the lid.

Post Script ...

During dinner ...

After dinner ...

Gobble gobble

This post contains Amazon links.

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 request 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. 

    June 13, 2017

    Date Lady coconut caramel sauce

    I've mentioned previously that I don't have much of a sweet tooth. My idea of sweet is usually another person's idea of 'not too sweet'. I didn't eat much candy growing up — because I didn't like it. I remember once finding a box of Valentine's Day chocolates I'd been given by a boyfriend, stuffed away into a drawer, a year later. A few of the chocolates were missing, however, because before stashing the box away, I'd searched for, and eaten, the caramel-filled chocolates. Caramel was the one candy I liked. Maybe that's why I like dates so much — they are reminiscent of caramel, and work well for making a vegan, vanilla-spiked caramel sauce, and giving baked goods a hint of caramel flavor. When I was offered a sample jar of Date Lady coconut caramel  sauce, what could I say but yes?

    Date Lady's new syrup is not only easy to use and delicious, it's made from natural, organic, GMO-free, gluten-free ingredients. The sauce starts with a base of 67% organic dates and then includes organic coconut cream, organic vanilla extract and baobab powder.

    "'From the beginning, we have always wanted to produce a caramel sauce that was made with traditional ingredients and methods,' said Colleen Sundlie, President, Date Lady. 'Our initial Date Lady Caramel Sauce was a top-seller, but we had trouble wrapping our head around the fact that we couldn’t get a detailed ingredient list for the organic flavoring. So, we decided to move forward and take on the challenge of creating new recipes using only food to create rich and creamy flavors.'"

    I tried my syrup on a scoop of mint chocolate chip coconut ice cream. The syrup's flavor straight from the jar is rich, dark and delicious, with a velvety taste of coconut cream, but I'm afraid the flavor was a bit overpowered by the sweetness and mintiness of the ice cream. I was wishing I had vanilla ice cream to try instead, but, it's possible ice cream may be too sweet for the syrup to be its best.

    I was thinking I needed something more cake-like to really showcase the flavor ... or maybe a waffle. And yes, it was perfect on the waffle, eliciting an enthusiastic "mmmmm" from both my husband and myself. I think it would be excellent drizzled over a bundt cake or on top of a muffin. Any slice of plain cake would be transformed with a bit of Date Lady coconut caramel sauce.

    Normally $7.99, the coconut caramel sauce will be featured in a one-day flash sale on June 15 for $5. This would be the perfect time to grab a jar, and enjoy a bit of the luxurious topping. 

    100% Organic, Vegan, Gluten Free, Non-GMO
    Ingredients: Date syrup, Coconut Cream (coconut, water), Coconut Oil, Vanilla Extract, Baobab Powder, Pectin, Sea Salt

    I was given a free jar of coconut caramel sauce for review purposes. I was not paid for my review. All opinions are my own.

    June 09, 2017

    Everyday Vegetarian, cookbook review and recipe

    Reprinted with permission from Time Inc. Books, a division of Time Inc. New York, NY. 
    All rights reserved.

    I usually only accept vegan cookbooks for review, but I made an exception for Everyday Vegetarian for several reasons. The book, by the editors of Cooking Light, contains more than 150 vegetable-centric dishes using easy-to-find ingredients. Although only 20 percent of the recipes are vegan, most experienced vegans could easily turn a majority of the other recipes vegan by a simple substitution or two — rice syrup instead of honey; plant milk, vegan butter or vegan cheese instead of dairy, etc. The recipes are straightforward, easy to follow, and each recipe is accompanied by an appetizing full-color photo.

    So why am I reviewing a vegetarian cookbook? (No, I'm NOT a newly minted ex-vegan. No, no, no — never!) Vegetarianism and veganism seem to be on an upswing right now. More and more restaurants are offering vegan options, and more people than ever are expressing curiosity about plant-based and vegetarian diets. However, even when the interest is present, changing one's diet can seem like an insurmountable task without some sort of gentle introduction. Not everyone wants to be hit over the head with a 'be-vegan-or-else' mandate. Some folks prefer to ease into change more slowly. Lots of vegans, myself included, were vegetarians for a few years before becoming vegan. People give up animal products for different reasons. For some it's for health, others care deeply about reducing animal suffering, some might become plant-based for the environment. Some embrace multiple reasons for dietary change.  I try to accept people at whatever dietary stage they are, and help them move forward, which is why I'm reviewing Everyday Vegetarian; I think it's a great stepping stone to helping people move towards a vegetarian, and hopefully, vegan diet. Or just to add more plant-based meals to the menu.

    No matter what their dietary motives are, I'd guess most people want their food to taste great, and that is where Everyday Vegetarian steps in.  Written by the editors of Cooking Light, it brings creative, colorful, delicious vegetarian and vegan cooking expertise into an already popular, mainstream cooking forum. I think it would be an extremely appealing cookbook not just for established vegetarians and vegans, but esprcially for those just starting to incorporate more plant-based choices into their diet. The people who are looking to make plant-centric changes to their diet, no matter how small those changes start out, are the perfect target audience for Everyday Vegetarian. (Note that the cookbook doesn't address food sensitivities so you will have to make your own adjustments to the recipes if you must, or choose to, avoid certain ingredients. I'm used to adjusting recipes for my own dietary needs so this isn't an issue for me, but I wanted to mention it for those who might be interested.) While easy cooking methods and familiar ingredients are emphasized, the authors also encourage readers to be open to trying new ingredients and flavors. For those just venturing into the whole foods, plant-based cooking experience, a description of ingredients and where to find them is helpfully included.

    Asian stir-fry quinoa bowl - photo by Andrea

    I have to say, I was delighted with the recipes I tried. They were easy, beautiful and delicious. The vegan recipe for Asian stir-fry quinoa bowl was so good, belying its everyday ingredients and simple preparation. It looked and tasted great — I loved it.  The main thing we did differently was cook the tofu in the air fryer — just because we love our air fryer so much, but that's certainly not a requirement for the excellent recipe!

    Roasted cauliflower and chickpea whole wheat spaghetti bowl - photo by Andrea

    We also tried roasted cauliflower and chickpea whole wheat spaghetti bowl — another seemingly simple vegan recipe with outstanding flavor. As I mentioned earlier, the recipes don't take food sensitivities into account, but if you are used to making adjustments for your own health and taste preferences, it shouldn't be a problem. For example, instead of whole wheat spaghetti, I subbed quinoa spaghetti to accommodate my gluten intolerance. And a sweet pepper was used instead of a chile pepper, because that's what we had. Next time, it will be a chile pepper.

    There are so many more recipes I want to try, such as one pot green curry stew with potatoes and cauliflower, black bean cakes with ginger and cilantro cream, whole roasted carrots with black lentils and green harissa, tempeh with charred peppers and kale, etc., etc.

    If you are looking to add more plant-based recipes to your diet, Everyday Vegetarian is a cookbook I recommend. If you're already vegetarian or vegan, you'll find lots of wonderful recipes to inspire you.

    I have permission from the publisher to share the recipe for roasted cauliflower and chickpea whole wheat spaghetti bowl with you. Hope you try it and enjoy it as much as we did.

    Reprinted with permission from Time Inc. Books, a division of Time Inc. New York, NY. 
    All rights reserved.

    Roasted cauliflower and chickpea whole wheat 
    spaghetti bowl Hands-on: 35 minutes Total: 35 minutes Serves 4

    This one-bowl meal is an ideal option for healthy meals on the go; It comes together quickly and can be made ahead. It gets wonderful texture from the chickpeas and cauliflower, nuttiness from the whole-wheat pasta, and rich umami flavor from the miso and tahini. You’ll find the miso paste in the refrigerated produce section and tahini in the international aisle.

    • 1 small head cauliflower, broken into 1-inch florets (about 31/2 cups)
    • 1 (15-ounce) can unsalted chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1/4 cup water
    • 3 tablespoons white miso paste
    • 2 tablespoons tahini
    • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
    • 1 garlic clove
    • 6 ounces uncooked whole-wheat spaghetti
    • ½ cup firmly packed parsley leaves
    • 1 red chile pepper, thinly sliced

    1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Combine the cauliflower, chickpeas, oil, black pepper, and salt in a large bowl. Spread the mixture in a single layer on a baking sheet; bake at 425°F for 20 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender and lightly browned.
    2. Place ¼ cup water, miso, tahini, lemon juice, and garlic in a mini food processor; process until smooth.
    3. Prepare the pasta according to the package directions, omitting the fat and salt. Drain. Divide the noodles evenly among 4 bowls. Top evenly with the cauliflower mixture. Drizzle evenly with the miso dressing; top evenly with the parsley and sliced chile. 

    Excerpted from Everyday Vegetarian by the editors of Cooking Light. Copyright © 2017 Oxmoor House. Reprinted with permission from Time Inc. Books, a division of Time Inc. New York, NY. All rights reserved. 

    EVERYDAY VEGETARIAN: A Delicious Guide for Creating More Than 150 Meatless Dishes by the editors of Cooking Light (Oxmoor House, May 16, 2017, $21.95) was sent to me at no cost. I was not paid for my review. All opinions about the book are my own.

    May 25, 2017

    Baking experiments etc.

    I sat down to write a post about my pizza and bread baking experiments with a few air fryer photos thrown in, but when I went through my last few posts to make sure I wasn't repeating myself, the fry photos attacked me, and I had no choice but to give in and make a batch. At least I know my blog is inspiring somebody, even if it's only me. The fries have a half teaspoon of oil, a sprinkle of coarse salt and too many crushed red peppers. They were delicious, yes, but a little too spicy for me, and now my nose is running. I guess it's a small price to pay for fries-on-demand. I usually make them sans oil but wanted to see if they would be a lot different if I used some. Maybe a little different, but I like them so much plain that I think I'll stick to that method when air frying for myself.

    About a month ago I started experimenting again with making gluten-free pizza crust. You can see the results above, topped with mozzarella made from the recipe in Miyoko Schinner's book, The Homeade Vegan Pantry. It was a crust raised with baking powder but not yeast. After I made it I watched a video about applying science to gluten free baking, specifically pizza, and was surprised that I'd added most of the recommended ingredients on my own. I felt so scientific, and intended to take it to the next level, but it never happened. (The ingredients included: Bob's Red Mill GF flour mix, millet flour, coconut flour, psyllium husks, sugar, baking powder, salt, almond flour, flax eggs, water.) Before making the dough, I'd thought about what ingredients I should add, and why I was adding them. The crust was good, but not great. After watching the video, I decided to increase certain ingredients and add additional ones, and now I'm trying to  inspire myself to try it again tonight, so perhaps there will be an update soon. Sadly, I don't have homemade mozzarella, but I'll just make a cheese sauce. The aforementioned video said to make the dough very wet, spread it on a pizza pan, bake it in a slow oven for 45 minutes to dry it out, then let it cool while preheating the oven to 425˚F. Add the toppings and bake about 15 minutes. I'll have to watch the video again, but the long, double baking time might exceed my attention span. Perhaps I will selectively incorporate ideas from the video.

    I discovered an interesting thing about the pizza while heating up the leftovers. I used my air fryer to heat the leftover slices, and they improved dramatically — becoming crisp on the bottom and chewy inside, just as they should be. Maybe there is something to that scientific double baking time.

    As for the cheese, it takes two days to make the mozzarella, but once the ingredients are mixed and cooked, it practically makes itself. Most of the time is just waiting for the cheese to ripen. The recipe is called oil-free melty "mozzarella," and I made the sauerkraut juice version. I recommend it, but would probably make the Rejuvelac version next time.

    In addition to making pizza with the homemade mozzarella, I also made a vegan version of poutine. I've never actually had poutine made with cheese curds and gravy, so I can't speak to how my version compares, but I can tell you, with mushroom gravy and mozzarella, it was damn fine (as Agent Cooper would say). I swear, if my air fryer ever breaks, I will immediately replace it.

    Along with my pizza trials, I revisited the buckwheat-millet nut-and-seed bread that has appeared on the blog periodically — here, here, and here. I've slowly been making changes to the recipe, and when I'm satisfied, I'll post a revised version. The original, unyeasted, naturally leavened loaf is still delicious, but I've been working on a yeasted version in an attempt to make the texture lighter. My husband recently had some dental work done that requires him not to eat nuts or seeds for a month, so the bread is on hold for a couple more weeks. I can't eat the whole loaf by myself.

    Here are a few more random dishes made with the aid of the air fryer. (Baking in the oven or frying in a pan are alternatives to the air fryer.) When I air fry tofu, I find it most efficient to cut the tofu into strips, then cube it after it's done. So here's what it looks like before I turn it into a recipe. (It takes a lot of will power to not just eat it as is.)

    Fancier-than-usual miso soup, or any miso soup, is always welcome at our house. I love to add air fried tofu to miso soup.

    Vegetables and (air fried) tofu with peanut sauce is a fast option when we're too tired or lazy to think of something new for dinner. My husband found a recipe called almost instant peanut sauce on the Forks Over Knives Web site that was surprisingly delicious, and turned a simple dish into a wonderfully satisfying meal.

    My dog is patiently waiting for me to take her for a walk, so I'm going to conclude my post here. I'm working on a cookbook review, and a new product review which I hope to finish soon.