Friday, August 31, 2012

Caramelized Onion Pizza with Jalapenos and Mushrooms

Another caramelized onion pizza, but this one has fresh onions on it too. I love the combination of mushrooms, jalapenos and onions.

1 large white or brown onion, thinly sliced and caramelized in a little olive oil
Sea salt
1 yellow bell pepper, slivered
6-8 oz. crimini or button mushrooms, sliced
1/2 c. pickled jalapeno slices
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced into rings
1 pizza crust, store bought or home made

1)  Preheat the oven according to the instructions for the pizza crust you are using. Heat a little extra virgin olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat and add the thinly sliced white or yellow onion and a sprinkling of sea salt. Toss the onion to coat with the oil and then leave it be for about 5 minutes until it starts to brown. Toss the onion around in the pan and leave it for another 3 minutes. Once it starts to get very brown keep tossing it around as it finishes caramelizing. It will take about 10-17 minutes total.

2) When the onion is done spread it out over the pizza crust. Add a little more oil to the pan and add the yellow peppers and mushrooms. Saute them about 3-5 minutes until softened. Sprinkle them with a little sea salt and then arrange the peppers and mushrooms over the caramelized onion.

I used red peppers this time, but I like it better with yellow.
3) Arrange the jalapeno slices and sliced red onion over the top of the pizza and bake according to the directions for your crust.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Indonesian Spicy Peanut Stirfry

I don't have much to say about this except that it's really good. Below I give an adaption for kids. And thank you, Indonesia, for spicy peanut sauce.

For the Stirfry:
2 tsp. peanut or canola oil
8 oz. diced tofu or tempeh
1 yellow or white onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 carrots, julienned
4-5 c. cooked brown rice (option: cook using coconut milk as part of the liquid)
Grated coconut, optional
Cilantro to garnish, optional

For the Sauce:
1/2 c. peanut butter
2 Tbsp. shoyu, tamari or soy sauce
1 Tbsp. seasoned rice vinegar
Juice of 1 fresh lemon or lime
1/4 c. water or coconut milk
Sriracha hot sauce or chili garlic paste to taste (I use about 1 Tbsp., but I like it really spicy so maybe start with 1 tsp.)
1 clove of garlic, pressed

1)  For the sauce simply whisk everything together in a small bowl and set aside.

2) Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a wok or very large saute pan and add the diced tofu or tempeh. Toss the tofu or tempeh  around in the oil and then let it sit until it starts to brown about 5 minutes. Toss it around and continue let it brown for about 5 more minutes.

3) Add the onion and carrot and continue to stir fry along with the tofu for about 5 more minutes.

4) Add the rice, sauce and grated coconut (if using) and toss to coat everything with the sauce and heat through.

Garnish with cilantro if desired. This makes about 4-6 servings.

NOTE: I adjusted this recipe for my kids by omitting the hot sauce and using broccoli rather than carrots and onions and all 3 of them loved it:

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Potato Leek Soup

This is my favorite soup to make in the late summer and early fall. I don't want to toot my own horn, but I think this is the best potato leek soup I've tried and I'm kind of a potato leek soup snob. Most of the time there is milk in potato leek soup, but this uses soy milk or any other nut milk. Just don't accidentally use vanilla flavored milk like I once did.

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
4 leeks, sliced lengthwise and then into half-moons and washed
4 medium yukon gold potatoes, 1/2" dice
6 c. vegetable stock
1 c. plain soy milk
1-2 Tbsp. fresh herbs, my favorite combination is thyme and flat leaf (Italian) parsley
Sea salt and black pepper
Juice of 1 fresh lemon

1) Heat the oil in a soup pot and saute the leeks until soft, about 5-7 minutes.

2) Add the potatoes, broth and salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.

3) Turn off the heat and add the soy milk, fresh herbs and lemon and adjust the salt and pepper if necessary.

This soup is lovely served with home made Garlic Bread. This serves 6-8 depending on what else you're serving.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Kale Quesadillas

When my husband and I first got married we thought that making quesadillas was super fancy and grown up. We would make them together in our tiny kitchen and then light a candle and eat our quesadillas together.

We don't use cheese anymore and have come to like them much better with caramelized onion and sauteed kale instead. I don't really feel like quesadillas are fancy anymore, but I still like them and I would still eat them by candlelight with my husband.

You will notice below that if you use my recipe for refried beans you only need to add the onion and kale, but if you are using store bought canned beans there are more ingredients to add.

Kale Quesadillas with Scotch Bonnet Salsa
* Denotes an ingredient that is only to be added if you are using canned beans, but should not be added if you are using my recipe for Garlicky Refried Beans.

About 3 cups Garlicky Refried Beans or 2 15 oz. cans of vegetarian store bought refried beans
Extra virgin olive oil
1 white or yellow onion, diced and caramelized
4 leaves of kale, minced and sauteed
*2 tsp. chili powder
*1/2 tsp. ground cumin
*1/2 tsp. paprika
*1/2 tsp. oregano
*3/4 tsp. sea salt
*1/4 tsp. black pepper
*Several dashes of hot sauce or chipotle hot sauce
16-18 whole wheat tortillas

1) Heat a little oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat and add the diced onion and a little sea salt. Toss the onion to coat it with the oil and then let it be for about 5 minutes. Once it starts to brown give it a toss and turn the heat down to medium. Leave it alone for another 3-5 minutes until they really start getting brown and then stir frequently until they are fully browned. This will take about 12-17 minutes total.

2) Meanwhile, as the onion caramelizes, place the refried beans into a large bowl and add the spices (if using). You can also wash and mince your kale at this time.

3) When the onion is done, add it to the bean mixture and place the kale in the same pan, you don't really need more oil for this. Just stir the kale around in the pan for about 3-5 minutes until it starts to get crispy and then add it to the bowl with the beans.

4) Stir the beans, spices (if using), onions, and kale to mix and then use a spatula to spread bean mixture onto the tortillas. I prefer to spread beans onto one side of the tortilla and then fold them over.

5) Once all of the beans are spread onto tortillas heat the same pan you used for the onions and kale over medium heat. Fry the quesadillas, 2 at a time, for about 3-5 minutes per side.

Serve with Scotch Bonnet Salsa, Salsa Verde, Guacamole or whatever else you like. This makes a lot of quesadillas.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Kamut Salad

This is my attempt at making my favorite grain salad from the deli at the local food co-op. I think I got it right because it tastes just the same.

for the salad:

1 c. kamut, sorted, rinsed and soaked for at least 1 hour
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1/2 a small red onion, diced
2 small carrots, julienned
2 Tbsp. minced flat leaf parsley
2 Tbsp. minced fresh chives
1/4 c. toasted sunflower seeds
1/2 c green peas
1/2 c. dried cranberries

for the dressing:

Juice of 1-2 fresh lemons, about 3-4 Tbsp.
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. flax seed oil (or more olive oil)
3/4 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper

1) After the kamut has been soaked for at least an hour, rinse it off and place it in a sauce pan covered with about 3 inches of water. Bring it to a boil, reduce to a simmer and simmer, covered, for an hour. Make sure to stir it occasionally and add more water if it starts to evaporate too much.

2) As the kamut cooks chop all of the vegetables and herbs and place them in a large bowl with the sunflower seeds and dried cranberries.

3) Whisk together the dressing in a small bowl and set aside.

4) Once the kamut is done cooking, drain it and rinse with cold water.

5) Add the kamut and dressing into the large bowl with the vegetables and toss to combine.

This makes about 6-8 servings.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Salsa Verde

This is the same recipe as the scotch bonnet salsa except it is green and not as hot. For this one I replace the scotch bonnet peppers with jalapenos and the red tomatoes with green zebras. If you can't find green zebras try tomatillos, they are the traditional salsa verde base (or you could secretly use red tomatoes and make red salsa verde).

15 green zebra tomatoes (or tomatillos) about 2 1/2 lbs.
1/2 c. apple cider vinegar
3 tsp. agave nectar
Juice of 1 fresh lime, about 3-4 Tbsp.
6 jalapenos, roughly chopped
1 white onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
1/3 c. (handful) fresh cilantro
1 scant tsp. sea salt

1) Place all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

2) Transfer the salsa to a large sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a low boil (more than a simmer) and let it boil with the lid off, stirring occasionally, until it is reduced to the thickness you want it to be. It usually takes about 1 hour to 1 hour and 20 minutes to get to a thickness I like.

3) Once it is done let it cool for a little while and then transfer to mason jars and store in the fridge.

This makes about 5 cups of salsa.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Brown Rice and Watercress Stirfry

Here's an easy way to get more brown rice and greens into your diet - both very healthy foods. Brown rice gives us a little protein, fiber, and energy through a steady and slow rise in blood sugar.

One of the most important things I learned through studying Macrobiotics was the difference between good carbohydrates and "bad carbs." I never got on the anti-carbohydrate band wagon, but I did sometimes wonder if maybe I shouldn't be eating things like brown rice and fruit. I was happy to find out that we indeed should eat whole food carbohydrates.

The bad carb issue relates to carbohydrates that are stripped of their fiber and nutrients (especially when other yucky things are added like sugar, high fructose corn syrup, copius amounts of sodium, and who knows what else). The carbohydrates we want to avoid include things like white rice, white bread, white pasta, candy, soda, chips, crackers, and all forms of processed foods. These foods cause our blood sugar to spike dramatically and, along with a host of all sorts of other unhealthy consequences, they will eventually lead to diseases like type 2 diabetes. Sorry to be dramatic, but it's true. 

2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1 white or brown onion, thinly sliced
4-6 oz. cubed tofu, optional
3-4 c. cooked brown rice (short grain, long grain, batsmati, any kind)
1 c. cooked cannellini beans, optional
1/4 c. shoyu, tamari or soy sauce
1 tsp. mirin (optional)
1-3 tsp. hot Asian chili paste such as Sriracha or a chili garlic paste, optional
Several dashes of brown rice vinegar, ume plum vinegar, or seasoned rice vinegar
1 bunch of watercress or 8 oz. baby spinach
Toasted brown or black sesame seeds to garnish, optional

1) Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a wok or large skillet. Add the onion (and tofu if using) and saute until the onion just begins to brown, about 7 minutes.

2) Dump in the rice (and cannellini beans if using) and then pour all of the sauce ingredients you are choosing to use over the rice and toss to combine. Stirfry for about 3 miutes.

3) Turn off the heat and add the watercress or spinach and toss to incorporate. The heat of the stirfry will wilt the greens enough.

This makes 4-6 servings.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie

This is my husband's favorite smoothie, but it's a little too sweet for me. So if you like to eat a lot of candy maybe you can eat this instead. You don't need to be too strict with any of the measurements.

1 c. chocolate soy or almond milk
2 Tbsp. natural peanut butter
1 banana, broken into pieces
2-3 dried dates, minced (Trader Joe's has a good price on these, ethnic grocery stores usually have even better prices)
4-5 frozen strawberries, optional

Place it all in the blender and blend until smooth. Keep in mind it will all blend together better if you place the wet ingredients into the blender first.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Thai Spaghetti

I am so excited about this recipe. It's one of those things where I had a lot of tomatoes and Thai basil from the garden and needed to figure out something to do with it all. So I thought I'd give a Thai spaghetti sauce a try and it turned out unbelievably good. The trick is to use a lot of garlic (crushed, not minced) and a lot of Thai basil.

3 lbs. tomatoes, any kind
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
5 cloves garlic, crushed with a garlic press
1 white or yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 thai red chile, minced or 1/4-1/2 tsp. crushed red chili flakes
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 Tbsp. shoyu, tamari or soy sauce
1 tsp. more of sea salt
1/4 tsp. white pepper (or black)
1 bunch Thai basil (about 4 large sprigs or 1/3 c.), roughly chopped or torn

This time I had marglobe and green zebra tomatoes.
1) To prepare the tomatoes, remove the cores, chop them roughly and puree them in a blender. If you really want to you can take the time to remove the skins but I wouldn't bother. Set the pureed tomatoes aside.

2) In a large pot preheat the oil and add the garlic and Thai chile and let them saute for about 1 minute. Add the onion and 1/2 tsp. sea salt and saute until the onion is softened, about 4 more minutes.

3) Add the tomato paste and shoyu and stir around to dissolve the tomato paste.

4) Add all of the remaining ingredients, bring to a boil and reduce to a low boil (a little more than a simmer) and let it bubble for 40 minutes or up to 1 hour, depending on how thick you want your sauce to be. Stir the sauce occasionally to prevent burning.

Use the sauce over angel hair pasta, spaghetti, linguini or udon noodles. This makes enough sauce for 1 lb. of pasta, about 2 1/2 to 3 cups.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Black Beans and Rice with Sofrito

To me this is the ultimate vegan feast when topped with Spicy Slaw, Guacamole and Scotch Bonnet Salsa. But this dish is also good on it's own, served in corn tortillas or with your favorite toppings.

In Spanish cuisine sofrito is a mixture of things like garlic, tomatoes and peppers that are minced and sauted over light heat for a long period of time. In Caribbean cuisine sofrito is usually lard seasoned with various ingredients such as ham and peppers. This sofrito is a combination of the two omitting the lard and ham and combining the peppers, tomatoes and aromatics. 

It used to be believed that vegans had to carefully combine different complimentary protein foods at every meal to survive. We now know this isn't the case, our bodies are super efficient at storing and using amino acids obtained from plant foods over a period of about 1-2 days, and in some cases up to a week. So as long as we eat a diet varied in nutritious plant foods we will get plenty of "complete proteins." But rice and beans were long touted as the perfect vegetarian meal because the rice and the beans together contain all 9 essential amino acids, so here you have it a complete protein vegetarian meal.

1 lb. black beans, sorted, rinsed and soaked for at least 4 hours or overnight
Extra virgin olive oil
1 green bell pepper, small dice
1 red bell pepper, small dice
1 poblano chile, small dice
1 white or yellow onion, small dice
4 cloves garlic, minced
4-6 tsp. chile powder
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. (epasote or Mexican oregano), optional
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
8 oz. tomato sauce
6 oz. tomato paste
2 c. reserved bean cooking liquid
3-4 c. cooked brown rice (I usually use leftover rice, but you can make rice for this recipe)

1) There are two different ways you can go about cooking the beans. Either cook them in a large pot according to the package directions or cook them in a pressure cooker on high for about 10-12 minutes. In either case, when you drain the beans reserve the cooking liquid to use later.

2) When the beans are almost done cooking, heat the olive oil in a large soup pot or dutch oven. Add all of the vegetables and saute until they soften, about 10 minutes. Add the spices, tomato sauce, and tomato paste and stir to combine. You will have a thick, pasty sauce. Let the sauce simmer for about 10-15 minutes making sure to stir frequently to prevent burning.

The sofrito
3) Add the drained beans and about 2 c. of the bean cooking liquid. Bring the beans to a simmer and let them simmer, covered, for 30 minutes stirring occasionally to avoid burning at the bottom of the pot.

4) After the beans have simmered for 30 minutes, add the cooked rice and a little more bean liquid only if it seems necessary. Simmer for 5 minutes more and then serve.

This makes about 8-10 servings.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Spicy Slaw

So many things are enhanced by slaw. Put some purple slaw atop a garden burger with a little dijon mustard, put it in tacos, feed it to your kids (kids love the tangy zip of slaw). But really, this is the slaw I like to place atop a big bowl of Black Beans and Rice with a little Scotch Bonnet Salsa drizzled on top to boot.

For the Dressing:

Juice of 1 lime
1 1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 Tbsp. brown rice or seasoned rice vinegar
Dash of crushed red pepper flakes
Dash of aleppo pepper (optional)

For the Slaw:

3/4 a small green cabbage, thinly sliced
1/4 a small purple cabbage, thinly sliced
1/2 a small red onion, slivered
1 carrot, peeled and grated
1/4 c. cilantro, minced

1) Mix the dressing in a small bowl.

2) Slice the vegetables and place in a large bowl and then toss with the dressing to combine.

Chill at least 1 hour before serving.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tempeh Reuben

Prior to switching to a vegan diet I don't think I'd ever eaten a reuben in my life. Even as a child I didn't care for most meats and certainly not a big beefy sandwich with kraut, which I also didn't care for. After switching to a vegan diet I didn't really get into tempeh because it struck me as a "fake meat" substitute. Enter home made sour kraut, a little research on the origin of tempeh, and a husband who loved reubens.

Tempeh is a fermented soy bean or grain cake that originated in Indonesia and it is very high in vitamin B12. Here in the U.S. tempeh is pasteurized which kills all of the B12, but it's still a really cool food. It has a firm texture and takes on the flavors of any sauce or marinade used with it while still retaining it's own delicious flavor. It's easy to bake, saute and grill. To make a pleasurable vegan reuben I decided to brine the tempeh and make a home made vegan Russian dressing that negates the need for swiss cheese. I love this sandwich even though I never loved the original reuben, but the true testament to its deliciousness is my husband's preference for it.

For the brine:
8 oz. package of tempeh (try to get a cake that is a long rectangle rather than a square, if possible)
1 c. beer (any non-hoppy variety)
1/2 c. water
1/2 c. apple cider vinegar
2 1/2 Tbsp. sea salt
1 1/4 Tbsp. sugar

For the Russian dressing:
1/2 c. veganaise
1 rib celery, minced
2 Tbsp. minced shallot (about 1 large)
1 tsp. paprika
1 Tbsp. yellow mustard
Sea salt and black pepper to taste

For the sandwiches:
8 oz. brined tempeh
Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c. russian dressing
4 ciabatta rolls
1/2 to 1 c. sour kraut

1) Prepare the brine by whisking together the ingredients in a wide glass bowl to dissolve the salt and sugar and set aside.

2) Slice the tempeh in half width wise to make two squares. Then slice each square in half lengthwise through the center forming two flat squares (not two little fat rectangles). Place the tempeh in the brine and submerge by weighting it down with a small ceramic plate or bowl and refrigerate for 1 hour or up to over night.

3) Prepare the Russian dressing by whisking all of the ingredients together in a small bowl.

4) Once the tempeh has been brined heat a little olive oil in a saute pan and saute the tempeh until lightly browned, about 3-5 minutes on each side.

5) To assemble the sandwiches, slice the ciabatta rolls in half and spread a layer of Russian dressing on each side. Lay the tempeh on the bottom half, top with sour kraut and secure the top of the roll in place with a toothpick.

This makes 4 sandwiches and is delicious when consumed with the same style of beer used to make the brine.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Macro Millet (GF)

Over the course of two separate winters I studied and attempted to eat mostly Macrobiotic food. "Why?" you might ask. "Why not?" say I. I found the diet too restrictive to follow long-term and I couldn't get into many of the particular spiritual philosophies, but I still had a wonderful time eating the food and I agree with the basic ideas of eating and living healthfully and intentionally. I was introduced to a lot of really wonderful concepts and foods through Macrobiotics - sea vegetables, body scrubs, twig tea, and various whole grains that I had never tried before.

Millet is a seed grass that is mainly cultivated in Africa. It is usually recommended you toast the millet before cooking it which gives it a nice nutty flavor. I adore gluten, it's one of my favorite proteins, but this recipe can be gluten free if you use GF Tamari in place of shoyu (shoyu is a naturally brewed soy sauce that I also learned about through Macrobiotics). Arrowhead Mills and Bob's Red Mill both sell packaged millet, but it's usually a bit cheaper to purchase it from the bulk section if you can.

1 c. dried millet
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1/2 a small red onion, minced
1 carrot, scrubbed or peeled and grated or minced
2 c. liquid, any combination of water and vegetable broth (you could use all water or all broth or a mix)
2 Tbsp. shoyu or gluten free tamari
Pinch of sea salt
Optional additions: cooked adzuki or black beans, diced tofu, any sea vegetable

1) Heat the sesame oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the millet, carrot and onion. Stir the millet around and let it toast until it becomes a tan color and smells kind of like corn tortillas (about 7 or 8 minutes).

2) Meanwhile bring the liquid to a boil in a sauce pan. Once the liquid comes to a boil the millet should be about done toasting. Add the millet, carrot, onion mixture to the liquid and give it a stir. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cover. Let it simmer for 25-30 minutes until all of the liquid is absorbed.

3) Fluff and serve.

Serves 4 (side note: my kids love this, so maybe yours will too).

Friday, August 10, 2012

Caramelized Onion Pizza with Peppers and Fresh Basil

Who needs cheese when you can have caramelized onions? They are so rich and sweet and savory. I like to have this on a lovely summer's eve along side a salad tossed with a simple vinaigrette and a glass of prosecco. Then I feel really fancy.

2 large yellow or white onions, halved lengthwise and sliced into thin half moons
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
1 pizza crust, store bought or home made
1 large red or orange bell pepper, sliced thinly
1/4 c. kalamata olives, sliced
1/4 c. sun dried tomatoes
1 Tbsp. capers, drained (optional)
1/4 c. fresh basil, sliced into thin ribbons

1) Heat about 1 Tbsp. of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the onions and about 1 tsp. of sea salt (just a large pinch). Toss the onions around to coat in the oil and then leave them alone for about 5-7 minutes until they just start to brown, then turn the heat down to medium. Give them another toss in the pan and then let them sit again for another 5 minutes. Keep stirring them occasionally until they start to become mostly brown and then stir them constantly until they are completely brown and caramelized making sure they don't burn. This usually takes 12-17 minutes.

2) Spread the onions onto the pizza crust. Add a little more olive oil to the pan and saute the bell peppers for about 5-7 minutes, until just soft. Arrange the peppers atop the onions.

3) Arrange the olives, sun dried tomatoes and capers over the peppers and then bake the pizza according to the directions for the crust you are using.

4) When the pizza is done baking sprinkle the fresh basil over the top and serve.

Other options:
-Spread a little vegan pesto or sun-dried tomato tapenade over the crust before adding the onions.
-Add a little truffle oil or thinly sliced garlic as you caramelize the onions.

This pizza is equally good served hot or at room temperature.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Roasted Chipotle Yam Fries with Dipping Sauce

I feel like if you put the word chipotle (or balsamic) in the title of a recipe people will want to try it. But this isn't just a gimmick, these are good. The yams are sweet and get a little caramelized which tastes nice with the smokey spice of the sauce.

There are no exact measurements for this recipe, just go with the amounts you like, but I'll try to give some reasonable guidelines. I usually make this using two yams and that would serve 2-4 people, so just choose the amount of yams based on how many people are eating and add more of the other ingredients to fit the number of yams you're using. Even if you put more or less than what I say you won't screw them up, it will just be a matter of differing intensity.

Yam Fries:
2 large yams, peeled and cut into wedges
About 1 1/2  Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
About 1 tsp. chipotle chile powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt
A couple of pinches of black pepper
Chipotle hot sauce (I use Buffalo Chipotle Salsa Picante)

Dipping Sauce:
1/2 c. natural ketchup
1 Tbsp. chipotle hot sauce
1/4 tsp. chipotle chile powder
Sea salt & black pepper to taste

1) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and line one or two baking trays with parchment paper. Place the peeled wedges into a large baggie and pour/sprinkle in the other ingredients. Close the baggie forcing out most of the air and massage the oil, spices and hot sauce all over the yam wedges.

2) Place the yams onto the baking trays making sure to lay them with a flat edge down and try to arrange them so that they don't touch. Bake for 15 minutes, then flip them over onto the opposing flat side and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes until soft inside and a bit caramelized on the edges.

3) As the yams bake whisk together the ingredients for the dipping sauce in a small bowl.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Creamy Cucumber Salad with Dill

In my family every get together in the summer involves corn on the cob and creamy cucumber salad with dill. Unfortunately this lovely summer salad always has mayonnaise in it making it off limits to vegans, which is a shame because it's so summery and delicious. Vegenaise to the rescue, a vegan mayonnaise made from grape seed oil.

2 large cucumbers, peeled or washed and thinly sliced into rounds
1/2 a medium white onion, finely diced
1 tsp. fresh dill or 1/4 tsp. dried dill
3 Tbsp. vegenaise
2 Tbsp. cider or rice wine vinegar
1 tsp. grape seed or canola oil
1 tsp. sea salt
1/8 tsp. back pepper

1) Put the sliced cucumbers and onions into a medium sized mixing bowl.

2) In a separate smaller bowl whisk together the remaining ingredients.

3) Pour the dressing over the cucumbers and toss to coat. Chill for at least 1 hour before serving.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Baba Ganoush

Sometimes I don't like baba ganoush because it tastes too bitter or is a little too slimy. I think roasting the egg plant this way combined with the spices and cilantro makes a really nice dip. And, I'll come out and admit it, I don't like raw garlic. Using roasted garlic in this recipe makes the dip more rich and mellow.

1 large or 2 small eggplants, peeled and diced into 1" cubes
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
6 cloves roasted garlic (you can put 6 individual cloves of garlic, still in their paper but with the tips sliced off, into the pan with the egg plant if you don't feel like roasting an entire head of garlic).
Juice of 2 small lemons, about 4 Tbsp.
1/4 c. tahini
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. ground corriander
3/4 tsp. sea salt
1/4 - 1/3 c. cilantro

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cut the ends off of the eggplant, remove the peel with a vegetable peeler and dice it into 1" cubes. Place the cubes in a large baking dish, drizzle with a good amount of olive oil and toss to coat. Cover the dish with foil and bake, covered, for 35 minutes. Note: if you are roasting your garlic with the egg plant just take 6 cloves with their "paper" on and cut the tips off and place in the pan with the eggplant).

2) Remove the foil, toss the eggplant with a little more olive oil and a couple pinches of sea salt and toss. Return the dish to the oven and bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes more. Remove from the oven and let it cool a bit.

3) Once the eggplant has cooled place it in a food processor fitted with the S blade, remove the garlic from the paper with a knife or by squeezing each clove out the tip that you cut off. Add all of the remaining ingredients except for the cilantro and process until pretty smooth.

4) Scrape down the sides of the food processor, add the cilantro and pulse to combine. Taste for salt and lemon adding more if necessary.

Mini pita rounds with baba ganoush and fresh tomato slices.
This makes about 2 1/2 c. baba ganoush.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Garden Vegetable Soup with Blackeyed Peas and Greens

This is pretty much as simple as it gets.

Made with kale, tomatoes and carrots from our garden!
2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 large white or yellow onion, diced
1 leek, sliced into thin half-moon shapes
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 ribs of celery, diced
2 medium russet or yukon gold potatoes, diced
4-6 c. vegetable stock
1 c. strained tomatoes, or 1 8 oz. can of tomato sauce, or 2-3 fresh tomatoes diced with their juice
1 15 oz. can black eyed peas, rinsed and drained
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 bay leaves
sea salt and black pepper to taste
1-2 large handfuls of baby spinach or other green, roughly chopped

1) First chop all of the vegetables and have them ready to go. I think the easiest way to clean the leek is to cut off the root and the green stalk from the ends, then slice the white part in half lengthwise (discarding the outer layer of each half), then slice it into thin half moon shapes and place them in a colander and rinse with cold water as you separate the rings.

2) Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot and add the onion, leek, carrots and celery. Saute until softened, about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3) Add all of the remaining ingredients except for the greens, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cover.

4) Let the soup simmer for 15 minutes and then turn off the heat and add the greens. Taste to adjust the salt and pepper if necessary.

This is delicious with a big piece of crusty bread or home made garlic bread.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Kim Chi

For those of you who are not fortunate enough to have Korean friends who have introduced you to kim chi please let me do the honors. When we lived in California we were introduced to Korean culture through numerous Korean friends who were kind enough to share their table with us, most notably my dearest friend Twyla. Kim Chi is a fermented cabbage dish and it is the most well known traditional Korean food and, as I understand it, is a side dish at almost every Korean meal as well as an ingredient in various other dishes.

In 2001 we visited some of our closest friends in Thailand (Twyla and her brilliant husband Rob and artist son Toby) and were able to stop in South Korea on our way home. It was there that I discovered kim chi bokumbop, which I will share a recipe for later (after I ask Twyla how she made it), but my love of kim chi was solidified there. I wasn't aware of this until recently, but most kim chi has fish sauce or sea creatures in it. Eek! This necessitated the creation of a vegan kim chi recipe using soy sauce, lemon juice and sea salt to replace the fish sauce.

In researching for this recipe I watched dozens of youtube videos on making kim chi and I learned several lessons:

1) Kim chi can prevent or cure almost every illness including but not limited to: cancer, depression, heart disease and sexual dysfunctions.
2) Your cabbage must be rinsed 3 times after soaking.
3) You must wear comfortable clothes when you are making kim chi.
4) You should wear pink rubber gloves when mixing your kim chi. Note: I thought this seemed sissy until I did it without gloves a few hours hands still feel like they are on fire.
5) There are over 200 varieties of kim chi.
6) Korea grows the best cabbage in the world, and makes the best sea salt - better than France.
7) Korea introduced pickled vegetables to Japan, not the other way around.
8) Kim chi never goes bad.
9) Every one has one essential ingredient that must be added to their kim chi to make it the most delicious and perfect kim chi.

There are several methods for making kim chi. The traditional way is dry salting whole cabbage, I'm using a quicker method of cutting the cabbage into smaller pieces and soaking it in a salt brine.

5 lbs. Chinese or savoy cabbage (Chinese is the traditional cabbage used, I had to use savoy this time because I couldn't find any good Chinese cabbage in town)
1 leek, thinly sliced on the bias
5 green onions, julienned
2 small carrots, julienned
About 3/4 c. diakon radish, julienned
1 white onion, roughly chopped
10-12 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp. ginger, roughly chopped
1/2 c. tamari, shoyu or soy sauce
1/4 tsp. sea salt
2 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 c. dried hot chiles ground into a powder or Korean chile powder (I ground up Thai hot chiles that we had dried from our garden last year in the blender) 
1 1/2 c. water
1/4 c. rice flour or other flour
2-3 Tbsp. sugar

1) Slice your cabbage in quarters lengthwise and remove the portion of the core that is lodged on each section by cutting across it diagonally. Slice each quarter in half lengthwise and then chop into square pieces width wise (basically get the cores out and chop the cabbage into about 2" pieces.

2) The cabbage must then be soaked in a salt brine solution that is 15% salt to every 1 liter of water. The amount will depend on the size of the bowl or bowls you are using to soak the cabbage in. Let the cabbage soak for 3-5 hours in the salt brine and then rinse in clean water 3 times and drain. Turn the cabbage around in the brine occasionally to make sure all of the cabbage gets evenly soaked.

Rinsing the cabbage in a clean sink.
3) As the cabbage soaks, cut up the following vegetables and set aside in a bowl: leek, green onions, carrots and daikon radish.

4) In a small sauce pan combine the rice flour (or other flour) and water and cook until the mixture is thick enough to coat your spoon (about 5 minutes). Then add the sugar and stir to combine while cooking for another minute. Set this mixture aside to cool a bit.

5) In a food processor combine the white onion, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sea salt and lemon juice and puree and then transfer the mixture to a large bowl.

6) Add the flour and sugar mixture and the hot chile powder to the large bowl with the onion, garlic, ginger soy sauce mixture and stir to combine.

7) Next add the vegetables (leeks, green onions, etc.) to the chile paste and toss with your hands to completely combine. Here is where you should put on your pink rubber gloves. I am not usually sensitive to hot peppers and I wish I had worn gloves.

8) Next add the cabbage that has been brined and thrice rinsed and again toss with your begloved hands to completely coat the cabbage with the chile paste. When it is completely mixed transfer the kim chi to any kind of fermenting/storage container that is glass or ceramic. Since it only ferments for 1 or 2 days before refrigerating it is sensible to place it in whatever jar or jars you plan to store it in once it is transferred to the fridge (such as mason jars).

9) Let the kim chi stand at room temperature for 1 to 3 days and then transfer to the fridge. Or you can use some of it right away if you want to.