Sunday, June 27, 2010

Computer Blues

Last Tuesday my computer decided it needed a vacation. The "Genius" at Apple determined that I need a new hard drive, so it's going to be a few more days before I can post. (When is the Google computer coming???) Anyway, stay tuned for: Rhubarb Crisp; Green Bean, Corn, Fresh Dill and Goat Cheese Salad; Grilled Artichokes with Balsamic Vinaigrette; Nectarine Blackberry Pie; Asparagus Pasta and more.

If you're in San Francisco, go eat at Gracias Madre. Amazing vegan Mexican cuisine.

Sorry for the delay and thanks for reading!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Asparagus, Spinach and Goat Cheese Pasta

I suppose I should mention something about the different types of pasta noodles out there. If you're vegan, there are loads of eggless pastas out there, and when I post a recipe I'll assume you know which ones to buy. I personally go for the nutrient-rich whole wheat pastas. Durum wheat (aka semolina, which most high-end pastas are made of) is very high in protein and gluten. This is the tastiest pasta, but not as healthy as the whole wheat variety. Multi-grain is not the same as whole wheat, so look at the back of the package and make sure you know what you're getting.

I had to rework this recipe to get the flavor right. The first time it was a little bland, so make sure to add lots of salt and pepper and as much lemon as you want. Some parm would really liven things up, as well. Don't be afraid to throw it all back in the pan and mix in more if you need to. When the balance is right, it's a lovely dish, and a great alternative to a typical cream sauce.

1 bunch asparagus, ends snapped and cut into bite size pieces
2-3 cups baby spinach leaves
1lb angel hair pasta
2 Tablespoons EVOO
2 Tablespoons flour
1 14oz can vegetable broth
4oz goat cheese
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
Salt and lots of Pepper to taste

Boil salted water over high heat. Blanch asparagus in boiling water ~3-4 minutes. Remove and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking. Add the angel hair to the boiling water and cook a couple minutes less than package directions (extra al dente). Meanwhile, heat the EVOO in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Mix in the flour with a whisk, add the broth and cook for 2 minutes, whisking continually, until the sauce thickens. Stir in the goat cheese, lemon zest and juice. Add the asparagus and spinach. Drain the angel hair, reserving 1 cup water. Add pasta to the sauce and stir until spinach wilts and well mixed. Season with salt and lots of pepper and top with pine nuts. If needed, add some of the reserved water to smooth it out.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Broccoli Slaw with Apples, Dried Cranberries and Walnuts

I don't get to Trader Joe's much, but when I have to go out that way I always try to make a stop to get their Broccoli Slaw (and Charles Shaw chardonnay for cooking, but that's another story.) It's just a bag of organic shredded broccoli stalk and carrots. If you have a mandolin or a food processor with a julienne attachment, you could do the veggies up yourself, but that sounds like a lot of work to me. They have a recipe on the back of the bag that's quite good. I made some modifications and it's now one of my favorite, healthy, vegan side dishes. Especially in the summer with a grilled veggie burger. You could also do this with almonds, pears and golden raisins in place of the walnuts, apples and dried cranberries. Either way, it's delicious and pretty good for you, to boot.

1 12oz bag organic shredded broccoli stalk and carrots (TJ's "Broccoli Slaw")
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 apple, diced
3/4 cup Vegenaise (vegan mayo)
Juice of 1 lemon
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste (I recommend quite a bit)

Serves 4

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Triple Berry Cream Biscuits

I can't get enough of the intense strawberries around right now. They are a deep red all the way through and are so sweet and delicious. As I was flipping through one of my cookbooks looking for yet another way to make shortcake, I noticed that there is a similar version called a cream biscuit. Only 4 ingredients...why not? Aside from my usual modification of subbing out some of the flour for the whole wheat variety, I added a modern twist of sprinkling the tops with a pinch of red sea salt and turbinado sugar. I loved the salty bite against the sweet berries and cream. Don't overdo it, just a couple grains per biscuit. Turns out, everyone who's had both prefer the cream biscuit. So there you have it.

1 cup organic AP flour
1 cup organic whole wheat pastry flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups organic heavy cream (for biscuits)
1-2 pinches red sea salt
1-2 pinches turbinado cane sugar
1/2 pint organic heavy cream (for whipping)
2 Tablespoons organic cane sugar
1 Tablespoon organic vanilla extract
1lb mixed fresh berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, whatever sounds good)

Preheat oven to 425F. Mix together flours, baking soda and salt. Add cream and stir just until dough forms. Knead it into a ball 4-5 times. Roll out to 1/2" thick. Using a 3-4" diameter glass (or biscuit cutter, if you own such a thing), cut out as many rounds as possible and drop onto lightly greased baking sheet (or non-stick sheet). Gather scraps, roll out again and continue cutting until you have 8 or used all the dough. Brush the tops with a little cream and sprinkle with a tiny bit of red sea salt and turbinado sugar. Bake until just golden, 12-15 min. Whip cream, sugar and vanilla in a mixer until fluffy. Slice cooled biscuits in half and frost each side with cream. Put a scoop of berries in between and sandwich closed.

Serves 8

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Enchilada Pie

My sister-in-law-to-be was due on Monday. Her family is in town, and we are all waiting on pins and needles for this insubordinate baby to arrive. I've heard that spicy food is good for promoting labor, so since I was cooking for the entire brood, enchilada pie was worth a shot. This recipe evolved from something we used to get for lunch back at F Coffee in San Diego. It's easy, good for crowds (and pregnant women), and can be made vegan by subbing the regular cheese for vegan cheese. I used to always make this with taco-seasoned tofu, but these days I'm loving the frozen Boca Crumbles. Anyway, my effort didn't work...she still hasn't had the baby. But, she has leftover Enchilada Pie in her freezer for when she does.

1 15oz can organic black beans
1 15oz can organic corn
2 15oz cans red enchilada sauce (I love Trader Joe's in the bottle)
10-12 medium sized organic corn or whole wheat tortillas (or both!)
12oz bag shredded organic cheddar and jack cheese combo
1 bag frozen Boca Crumbles
1 cup fresh organic cilantro, chopped
1 5oz can organic sliced black olives
1 organic avocado
Tapatio/Cholula for topping
Sour cream for topping (optional)

Preaheat oven to 400F. Drain and rinse beans. Drain corn. Pour 1 can of enchilada sauce into large flat bowl. Cut tortilla into quarters. Pour a small amount of enchilada sauce into a ~9x13" casserole dish to coat bottom. Dip tortillas in bowl of sauce an form a layer in pan. Sprinkle with 1/2 the corn, beans, olives and boca crumbles, and 1/3 the cheese, olives and cilantro. Pour some of the enchilada sauce on top. Repeat a layer of tortillas and the above. Top with a layer of tortillas, the remaining 1/3 cheese and olives. Save the remaining 1/3 cilantro for topping when it's done. Cover with foil and bake for 50min. Remove foil and cook an additional 10min. Top with cilantro and avocado slices.

Serves 4-6

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Apricot Raspberry Galette

A galette is basically just a free-form pie. I often make these when an entire pie isn't necessary, like for an intimate dinner party. They are prettier, too, showing off the fruit. You can fill them with just about anything, but I'm a huge fan of a stone fruit/berry combination (nectarine/blackberry, peach/blueberry, etc.) Galettes are such easy summer desserts, and are especially good when topped with vanilla ice cream.

3/4 cups organic unbleached flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
6 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into 1" cubes
1/8 cup cold non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening (earth balance is great)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2-4 Tablespoons ice water

Blend together above ingredients, except the water, together in food processor until coarse. Add 2 Tbsps water and pulse. Test a small bunch of dough and if it doesn't hold together, add 1 Tbsp more at a time until it does. Do not overwork the dough. Turn out onto work surface, divide into 4 portions. Smash each portion a couple times to distribute the fat. Then gather together to make a balls, and flatten into a 5-6" disc. Wrap tight in plastic and refrigerate 1 hour to overnight.

2 cups fresh organic apricots, sliced into quarters
1/2 pint fresh organic raspberries
2 Tablespoons organic cane sugar
4 teaspoons organic unbleached flour

Preheat oven to 375F. Gently fold together filling ingredients in a large bowl. Roll out your dough and dump filling in the middle, leaving a 1-2" border. Fold up the edges as pictured. Bake until golden, about 25-35 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Insalata Tricolore with Lemon Vinaigrette

This is a great side salad I like to make with anything Italian. It's very pretty, but also very simple, so you can focus on your pizza/pasta/lasagna, etc. Like a lot of salads I make, I had something similar at a restaurant and came home and copied it. You could add any number of things to it if you wanted to fancy it up: toasted pine nuts, dried cranberries, mandarins...but it's really just meant to be simple. I'm not going to put measurements on this because you can make up the dressing and then do as much or as little salad as you want, depending on your crowd.

Shaved Parmesan (use a block of parmesan and shave it with your potato peeler)

1/4 cup EVOO
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon Italian herb seasoning
1 Tablespoon agave nectar (or more or less to taste)
1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Shake dressing ingredients in jar and toss with salad. Wah-lah!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Vegan Banana Bread

Whenever I have some sad, old bananas lying around, I seize the opportunity to make banana bread. It's fairly quick and easy, and I always have the rest of the ingredients on hand. If you're not in the mood, don't toss those gems. Peel the bananas, put them in a freezer bag, and save them for another day. This recipe is vegan, low fat, and uses whole wheat pastry flour (I've made it with white flour and no one knew the difference in my house, so I'll always make it whole wheat from now on), and yet it's still super yummy. I always double the recipe and make two, because the first one doesn't even have time to cool completely before it's gobbled up. Feel free to fold in some blueberries, chocolate chips, or flax seeds in place of (or in addition to) the walnuts: it would be hard to mess this up. Makes a great hostess gift or treat for a friend who needs you to make her day.

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 overripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup canola oil
1/3 cup agave nectar
1/3 cup unsweetened soy milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly oil an ~8x4" loaf pan. Line with parchment paper and set aside. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the bananas, oil, agave nectar, soy milk and vanilla. Add the wet to the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth. Stir in the nuts. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 35-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for a bit, then out on a rack for a while before slicing...if you can wait.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Arugula Salad with Grilled Fennel, Grapefruit & Avocado

Salads are one of my favorite things to make, and I always make my own salad dressing. If you've done it a few times, you'll never buy anything in the bottle again. Have a few good vinegars (white wine, balsamic, rice, etc.) on hand, and combine with fresh or dried herbs, some mustard, some lemon, olive oil, whatever. I usually just make it up based on my ingredients, and hardly ever measure. Once you get the hang of it, it's really quite fun. Anyway, the grilled fennel in this salad was fantastic! It's a little extra effort for a salad, but definitely worth it.

1/4 cup EVOO
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
1 tsp Italian herb seasoning
fresh ground pepper to taste

Combine ingredients in a jar and shake vigorously. This will be more than you need, but it keeps in the fridge for weeks.

1 large organic fennel bulb
1 teaspoon EVOO
salt & pepper
4-5 handfuls organic arugula
1 organic ruby red grapefruit, peeled & sliced into 1" wedges
1 organic avocado, chopped
1/8 cup organic pumpkin seeds, toasted with a pinch of salt

Slice the ends off the fennel bulb and discard. Cut bulb into 1/4-1/2" thick slices. Toss with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill on bbq or in grill pan for about 5-7 min on each side. Let cool, then give the pile 1 or 2 chops to make bite size pieces. You can make this ahead and put in the fridge until ready to make the salad. Toast pumpkin seeds. Combine salad ingredients with dressing into large salad bowl and serve.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Shiitake Pappardelle with Lemon & Basil

Another lovely farmer's market find: shiitakes. These little guys have such a great flavor. I usually saute them and put them on pizza with some greens, but I wanted to do a pasta last night since I had some fresh whole wheat pappardelle on hand. For some reason, mushrooms always seem to be paired with cream, and I wanted something much lighter. The result was a nice lemony dish that my husband declared a hit. The only problem was that I didn't make enough for seconds, so I modified the recipe ensuring you will have enough. This cooks up fast, so have everything prepped before you start.

4 tablespoons EVOO
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 oz shiitake mushrooms, sliced
4 teaspoons lemon zest (~2 sm lemons)
4 tablespoons lemon juice (~2 sm lemons)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Fresh ground pepper to taste
16 oz whole-wheat pappardelle (or fettuccine)
1 cup grated vegan parmesan, Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Heat oil and garlic in large skillet over low heat until fragrant but not browned. Add mushrooms and increase heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in lemon zest, juice, salt and pepper. Turn off the heat. Meanwhile, cook the pasta al dente. Drain, saving 1 cup cooking liquid. Add the pasta to the skillet and stir in the cheese and basil. Add some of the reserved pasta water if necessary. Serve immediately.

Serves 4 (or 2 with seconds and leftovers)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Portobello & Oven Roasted Tomato Crostini

I offered to bring an appetizer to a birthday party this past weekend, and was determined to get inspiration at my Saturday farmer's market. Right when I walked in, there was a huge mushroom display, so I grabbed some portobellos and some shiitakes (pasta recipe for the shiitakes coming soon...) Still undecided on what to make, my interest was piqued by a small box of round tomatoes, about 2-3 inches in diameter. "Are these hothouse?" "No." "Heirlooms?" "No. They're just tomatoes. Really good tomatoes that taste like a tomato." Um, okay. Sold. My best guess is that they are campari tomatoes, but I can't be sure. They were delicious. The rest came together fairly easily, as crostini generally does. Great party food, these can sit for a couple hours and still be delicious.

2 portobello mushrooms
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp EVOO
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
10 small tomatoes, sliced thin (campari or other red tomato--just not slicing tomatoes, get something interesting)
salt and pepper to taste
1 baguette (sourdough, french, sweet, whole wheat, seeded--whatever you like)
4 basil leaves, chopped
goat cheese (optional)

Preheat oven to 400F. Mix together soy sauce, EVOO, and pepper in a bowl and rub all over mushrooms. Bake cap down for 15 min on rimmed baking sheet. Set aside. Lightly oil baking sheet and arrange sliced tomatoes on it. Give tomatoes a quick spray with EVOO and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake about 20-25 min, until slightly crisp on the edges. Slice baguette diagonally into 1/4"-1/2" slices. Spread on baking sheet and give a quick spray with EVOO. Toast until barely golden (less than 5 min), but still white in the middle. Slice mushrooms into pieces that will fit your toasts. Top toasts with 1 mushroom, 1 tomato, a drop of goat cheese (optional) and a piece of basil.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Pale Ale Chili with Four Beans

I've been making this chili recipe for years, way before those great Boca crumbles came out. I used to chop up Boca burgers instead of beef and make this for parties, not telling anyone it was vegan. Even the biggest carnivores were fooled, and the veggies were nervous, "are you sure there's no meat in this?" I actually sorta prefer the way the chunks of Boca burger "meat" hold together after the hours of simmering. But, the crumbles are so much easier to just dump in, so I'll put both ways in the recipe and you can choose for yourself. You can serve this with any number of toppings: green onions, red onions, cilantro, avocado, hot sauce, cheese, sour cream, etc. Serve with chips or corn bread. Put leftovers on veggie dogs or burgers.

3 Tbsps EVOO
2 yellow onions, chopped
6 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 12oz package Boca ground crumbles OR 1 box Boca burgers (original vegan) chopped
2 12oz bottles pale ale (I use Sierra Nevada)
1 32oz can diced tomatoes, w/juice
1 16oz can kidney beans, w/juice
1 16oz can black beans, w/juice
1 16oz can great northern beans, w/juice
1 16oz can pinto beans, w/juice
6 Tbsps chili powder
2 Tbsps ground cumin
1 Tbsp ground pepper
Salt to taste

Heat oil in large pot or dutch oven and saute onion and garlic until golden. Add Boca "meat" and saute another minute or two. Deglaze the pot with 1 bottle of beer until foam disappears. Stir in the rest of the ingredients (through pepper) and simmer 2 1/2 to 3 hours, covered, stirring occasionally. Add salt to taste and serve with various toppings on the side.

Serves 6

Friday, June 4, 2010

Baja Quinoa

Let's talk about protein for a second. In America, when we hear the word "protein", most of us automatically think about meat. We also think we have to eat lots of it throughout the day to be healthy and strong. It's simply wrong. I've heard friends say "I could never cook this way, I have to have protein" or "my husband needs his meat". First of all, there are lots of plant-based foods filled with protein, so try to stop equating protein with meat. Second, we only need about 5-6% of our total daily calories to be protein, so the notion of eating tons of meat is simply unfounded (although the beef & dairy industries would have you believe otherwise.) Third, plant-based proteins are processed differently in the body than animal-based proteins. The body takes in quinoa, for example, and puts it to work beating your heart, pumping your lungs, etc. The body takes in an animal-based protein and says "I can't really use this", so you either have to work it off, or it gets stored away. (Hmm...want to get skinny quick?) Quinoa is a super protein-packed whole grain, and is extremely versatile. You can eat it like oatmeal for breakfast, like below as a nice salad for lunch, or hot with tofu and veggies for dinner. I was dreaming of being in a bikini at the Palmilla in Mexico, so I got inspired to make this dish. Enjoy your protein!

1 cup uncooked quinoa (I used white, but any color will do)
juice of 2 limes
1/4 cup OEVOO (organic extra virgin olive oil)
1 shallot, minced
1 can organic black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup organic cilantro, chopped
1/2 pint mixed organic cherry tomatoes, halved
kernels shaved off of 1 ear of very fresh organic corn (you don't need to cook it if it's very fresh)
1 avocado, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
3 oz. cotija cheese, crumbled (optional)
Hot sauce (optional, I used Tapatio)

Cook quinoa per package instructions. When cool, mix with remaining ingredients and refrigerate until ready to serve. Top with hot sauce at the table.

Serves 4

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Cherry Pie

Pie is...well, for lack of a better term: easy as pie. It really is such a simple thing to make, and quite impressive--especially if you get fancy with the design. Make your pie crust the night before, then pull it all together a few hours before you need it. I make my pie crust dough in the food processor, and it's lightning fast. For this pie, I like to use organic, umbromated, unbleached white flour. This is a decadent, delicious, flaky crust: something for special occasions. (Let's not pretend this is health food, by any means.) I promise to share another version I make that's vegan and uses whole wheat pastry flour very soon. Also, I wanted to find a recipe that didn't use tapioca or corn starch so it wouldn't turn out all gel-y and Hostess-pie like. This just uses some flour, and while a little juicy, was sooo good!

Pie Crust
2 1/2 cups organic unbleached flour
1 1/2 sticks (12 Tbsp) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1" cubes
1/4 cup cold non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening (earth balance is great)
1/2 teaspoon salt
4-7 Tablespoons ice water

Blend together above ingredients, except the water, together in food processor until coarse. Add 4 Tbsps water and pulse. Test a small bunch of dough and if it doesn't hold together, add 1 Tbsp more at a time until it does. Do not overwork the dough. Turn out onto work surface, divide into 8 portions. Smash each portion a couple times to distribute the fat. Then gather together to make 2 balls, and flatten each into a 5-6" disc. Wrap tight in plastic and refrigerate 1 hour to overnight.

5 cups fresh tart cherries, pitted
1 cup organic cane sugar, more if cherries are very tart
1/2 cup organic unbleached flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 Tablespoon organic cane sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 400F. Roll out one of your pie crust discs, fit into 9" pie pan and return to fridge. In a large bowl, gently fold together pitted cherries, sugar, flour, cinnamon almond extract. Pour into pie crust. Roll out the top crust, slice into 1/2" strips and lattice the top of the pie (or try some other fancy design and send me a pic). Fold the edges of the bottom crust over and press edges together with your thumbs. Sprinkle top with sugar. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 50-60 minutes or until top is golden brown and cherries are bubbling up. I always cover the edges with a piece of aluminum foil, and remove for the last 10 min. of baking so they don't burn.

Serves 1 -12

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce

There is a restaurant in San Francisco that serves the best spaghetti on the planet. Their menu changes daily, but the spaghetti is the one thing that never gets cut. It is so basic, you wonder what makes it so good. Unfortunately, I don't have the recipe (I will pay for it if anyone has any connections), but this is my best attempt to replicate it. The recipe is so simple and quick, you'll never buy pre-made sauce again. And, this happens to be a perfect pizza sauce, too. Anyway, a couple tips: one is to make the noodles extra al dente. Start checking them at about 1/2 the time it says on the package. You want them to be chewy, so take them out when there is still a little crunch in the middle. Second: make sure you get crushed tomatoes...not diced, not pureed. San Marzano tomatoes are the best, IMHO. A bowl of this pasta and a nice chianti make perfect comfort food.

Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed with the back of a knife
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)
1/2 Tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1 lb good quality organic whole wheat spaghetti (or any noodle you have on hand)
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh basil for topping (optional)
Grated vegan parmesan, Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese for topping (optional)

Bring salted (3-4 Tbsps) water (4-5 quarts) for noodles to a boil. Combine olive oil, garlic, chili flakes and salt in large saute pan over medium/high heat for 1-2 minutes. Add tomatoes, stirring until oil is mixed in. Reduce to a simmer, and cook for an additional 5 minutes, turn off heat and stir in the lemon zest. Remove garlic cloves.  Meanwhile, cook noodles until barely al dente, about 1/2 -2/3 the package cooking time, depending on the type/brand. Stir noodles into sauce and top with basil and/or cheese.
Serves 4-6

Kid approved...

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