Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Monday, September 29, 2014


Best Blog Tips

I'm going to start out by apologizing for being TWO WEEKS between blog posts!  I have been working on a few ongoing cooking experiments/projects, but, for the most part, we have been eating pretty simple meals with our own or local produce that is in such abundance.  For a few days, when my husband had some sort of flu, he wasn't eating at all, so I wasn't doing much cooking at all.  In between, I was tackling my pantry, which was badly in need of a good clean-out and re-organization.  It felt so good to get that done!

The above "tile" of photos represents four of the quick and simple meals that I made during this week-- meals that we enjoyed so much that we deemed them worth repeating! Roasted veggies (corn, tomatoes, green beans, etc.) were definitely a theme.  Roasting brings out the sweetness of any vegetable, it seems. We had a good crop of tomatoes this year, so I have been slow-roasting small batches of them. (They can be kept refrigerated for several days or frozen for longer periods.)  They are so sweet and juicy that they almost make an instant sauce. I have often broiler-roasted (broiled the veggies in the oven under the oven's broiler coils, which is my favorite method) corn kernels, but, for the first time, I broiler-roasted fresh green beans, which was so quick and very delicious-- so I used them in two of these dishes, as you can see.

I'm going to give you only 2 actual recipes (for the soup and the salad)-- the pasta dishes are just descriptions, because I was improvising and there are not long lists of ingredients.  I hope you'll have fun playing around with these ideas.

Spaghetti with Roasted Green Beans, Garlic and Chanterelle Mushrooms, & Slow-Roasted Tomatoes 

What I did:
I had some slow-roasted tomatoes in the refrigerator already (see this post for directions). I cooked 8 oz. of ordinary spaghetti, but you could use any long pasta. Cook in salted water, drain, and set aside. 

To broiler-roast the other veggies, I spread a couple of handfuls of small, fresh green beans (a sub could be thin stalks of asparagus, snapped in half), a couple of large cloves of garlic, sliced, and 2 large chanterelle mushrooms (or use any type of mushroom you have around), sliced, on a small rimmed baking sheet and tossed them with a tablespoon or so of olive oil and a little salt.  I broiled them in my oven's broiler (on High) about 6 inches below the heat source, watching carefully, until the green beans softened and started to char a bit.  Stir the veggies around and spread out again.  Broil for a few minutes more, until done to your taste.

In a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat mix together the cooked, drained spaghetti, the broiler-roasted veggies and about 1 1/2 to 2 cups slow-roasted tomatoes and juice, broken up a bit (remove any tough skins).  Add some fresh chopped basil, if you like.  Stir the mixture around in the pan to heat well and add some plain vegan creamer (I used So Delicious Coconut Original Creamer) just to moisten.  Add salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste and serve immediately with your favorite vegan parmesan substitute (I like Go Veggie! by Galaxy).  

Creamy Pasta with Slow-Roasted Tomatoes & Herbs

What I did:
There were a few recipes online for dishes like this, but I simplified!   I cooked 8 oz. of dried gemelli pasta, but you could use any short pasta. Cook in salted water and drain. 

I had a fresh batch of slow-roasted tomatoes, so I measured out about 1 1/2 cups of that, with juice, and broken up a bit (remove any tough skins). I mixed the hot, cooked gemelli (back in the cooking pot) with the hot roasted tomatoes, a little chopped garlic sautéed briefly in a little olive oil, some chopped fresh thyme and basil, salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste, and some plain vegan creamer (I used So Delicious Coconut Original Creamer) to make a creamy sauce. Stir over medium-high heat until hot.  If the pasta absorbs all the creamer, add a little more. Serve immediately with your favorite vegan parmesan substitute (I like Go Veggie! by Galaxy).  


I've been wanting to try whole grain sorghum for some time and finally found a bag of Bob's Red Mill brand at my natural foods store.  Here is some interesting information about this nutritious  ancient grain from Africa-- the fifth most important cereal crop in the world (who knew?)!  I was intrigued by its possibilities partly because it can be used as a nutritious stand-in for pearl couscous.

Since it was a hot day, and I had more green beans and slow-roasted tomatoes , I decided to make a salad-- with a bit of a Southwest flair. Now, the sorghum does take a little planning ahead because, unless you want to cook the sorghum for upwards of an hour, soak it in lots of water overnight! (Don't follow the directions on the BRM package!) This also saves energy because you don't have to cook it for so long.

Printable Recipe
Serves 6

1 cup uncooked whole grain sorghum (soaked overnight in water to cover)
2 cups fresh water
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 ounces thin fresh green beans
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen sweet corn kernels
1 tablespoon olive oil
About 1 1/2 cups slow-roasted tomatoes, sliced and drained
1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and cut into small chunks and tossed with a bit of lemon juice
1/4 cup Oil Substitute for Salad Dressings
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon dried tarragon, crumbled (or 1 tablespoon fresh, chopped)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 large clove garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon salt

Drain the soaked sorghum and discard the soaking water. In a heavy medium saucepan with a lid, combine the soaked sorghum, the first 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and the 2 cups fresh water. Bring the water to a boil. Cover the pan and reduce the heat.  Simmer for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the grains are tender. Drain well in a strainer or colander. Set aside to cool while you prepare the rest of the salad.

Spread out the green beans and corn kernels on a small rimmed baking sheet and toss them with 1 tablespoon olive oil and a little salt.  Place them about 6 inches below the heat source of your oven’s broiler, with the broiler set on High and watch carefully until the green beans soften and start to char a bit.  Stir the veggies around and spread out again.  Broil for a few minutes more, until done to your taste.

Make the Dressing by blending or whisking the ingredients together. Mix the cooled sorghum with the broiler-roasted green beans and corn, the slow-roasted tomatoes, sliced olives and avocado chunks.  Add the dressing and toss gently.  Serve at room temperature.


Printable Recipe
Serves 4
This is my vegan and much faster version of a recipe from Sunset magazine, April 2014.  Might be my new favorite vegan "chik'n noodle soup"!

2 cups reconstituted Soy Curls, or vegan “chikn strips”, or thin slices of your favorite vegan “chicken-style” cutlet
(Read about Butler Soy Curls here, including instructions for reconstituting)
4 large green onions, thinly sliced
1 cup carrots, cut into matchsticks 
4 ounces dried long flat egg-free pasta, such as tagliatelle, fettuccine or linguine, broken in half
1/3 to 1/2 cup plain vegan creamer (not a sweet kind)
2 cups sugar snap peas, cut diagonally in half
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon OR 2 tsp. dried tarragon leaves, crumbled
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste

In a large pot, mix the broth, vegan chicken sub of your choice, green onions and carrots.  Bring to a boil and turn down to a simmer.  Cook for 4 or 5 minutes, covered.  Add the pasta and simmer for 6 to 8 minutes more.  Stir in the vegan creamer, snap peas, parsley and tarragon.  Cover and remove from heat.  Let sit for a few minutes, just until the snap peas are dark green, but still have some crunch.

Serve immediately.


Monday, September 15, 2014


Best Blog Tips

The tomatoes are coming in fast and furiously, from our garden and from the gardens of friends. We have big ones and little ones, red ones and yellow ones. We're eating them on salads, in sandwiches and many other dishes, but it's hard to keep up.  Yesterday, I slow-roasted a small tray of tomatoes of various sizes and varieties and knew I could do something with them for dinner that night.

If you've never slow-roasted tomatoes, cut them in half horizontally if round, lengthwise if the long paste type.  Cover your rimmed baking sheet with foil and then with baking parchment.  Lay the tomato halves cut-side-up and sprinkle with olive oil and a little salt and unbleached sugar.  Bake at 250-300 degrees F for about 3 hours.  The paste tomatoes get a bit chewy, and the ripe eating tomatoes get a bit more juicy-- I had to cook the juicy ones for another 45 minutes or so at 350 degrees F.  Use right away on pasta or crusty bread or in a grain salad, or refrigerate.

For our dinner, I coated 2 of my homemade "chikn" cutlets (recipe in my book World Vegan Feast) with whole wheat flour, dipped them in a mixture of nondairy milk with vegan sour cream whisked in to thicken it, and then coated them all over with panko (crisp Japanese breadcrumbs) mixed with Go Veggie Soy Parmesan. (You could use any vegan cutlet you like, homemade or commercial; you can use soy, hemp or nut milk curdled with a little lemon juice for the wet mixture, if you like; and you could use GF bread or cereal crumbs instead of panko, and any vegan parmesan sub you like.)

You could pan-fry these in a little olive oil, or brown them in a 400 degree F oven, turning once, but I browned them under my oven's broiler, about 6 inches below the heat source, just spraying with a little oil from a pump-sprayer.

For the tomato topping, I drizzled about half of the roasted tomatoes with about 1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar and mixed in some chopped fresh basil.  I heated the tomatoes gently in the microwave and spooned them over the hot crispy cutlets, serving immediately.

Simple, but DELICIOUS!


Monday, September 8, 2014


Best Blog Tips

More kale!  These days I'm constantly looking for great ways to use the ever-abundant kale supply coming out of our garden. Today I give you my version of an old Martha Stewart recipe (from 2009), to which I made a few changes.  1.) I lowered the oil content from 1/2 cup to 2 tablespoons (and I used olive oil); 2.) I used julienned carrots instead of "coins"; and 3.) I "massaged" the kale-- which is just rubbing the sliced raw kale for a very few minutes to break down some of the connective tissue of the kale leaves so that it is softer.

I really liked the idea of the peanut dressing, and it is a delicious, but not heavy, dressing for this salad.  I thought of a few changes I could make next time I prepare this: add some grated ginger to the dressing; add some Sriracha sauce; use small cubes of cooked sweet potato instead of the carrots; use rice vinegar instead of cider...

Printable Copy

Serves 6

10 cups of thinly sliced kale (wash, drain and strip from stalks before slicing crosswise)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red bell pepper, seeded and thinly-sliced
2 medium carrots, julienned (I used a julienne vegetable cutter/peeler-- see this post about the one I prefer)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup salted peanuts
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 cup salted peanuts

Toss together the sliced kale and the first 1 tablespoon of oil in a large bowl. Mix and lightly squeeze or rub the kale for a couple of minutes, just to soften the kale a bit.

To make the Dressing, add the Oil Sub, vinegar, 1/4 cup peanuts brown sugar, 1 tablespoon olive   oil and salt to your blender and mix at high speed until smooth.

Pour the dressing over the vegetables and toss well. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup salted peanuts, whole or coarsely chopped—your choice!


Sunday, August 31, 2014


Best Blog Tips

We have such beautiful kale this year and such alot of it!  I'm trying to incorporate it into as many dishes as possible.  (Fortunately, we both love it!).

Last night we had our friend Brenda over for dinner and I made a kale lasagne, using up 1 1/2 lbs of fresh kale, and some tofu ricotta and homemade spaghetti sauce that I had in the refrigerator.  It was delicious and definitely a keeper!  I served it with some lovely roasted beets from my friend Holly, just sprinkled with balsamic vinegar, olive oil and fresh parsley.

We ended the meal with some tea and organic green grapes-- very satisfying!

Serves 6-8

12 whole wheat lasagne noodles OR GF lasagne noodles (not the “no-cook” type)
About 1 1/2 lbs. fresh kale (weighed before stripping the leaves from the stalks), washed and cut into thin strips
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
2 large onions, thinly sliced
About 12 oz. slightly spicy vegan sausages, crumbled (I used Tofurky Italian, but you could use Field Roast Italian or your own homemade)
OR, for a GF or homemade alternative , use 2x this recipe for TVP pepperoni crumbles
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. red chile flakes (omit if you sausage is very spicy)
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste
About 3 cups homemade vegan plain tomato-y spaghetti sauce or your favourite storebought variety
1 recipe Ricotta di Soya (Tofu Ricotta) (There’s also an Almond Ricotta recipe at that link, too, but you’ll need to make about 1 1/2 times that recipe.)
About 1/2 cup soy parmesan (such as Go Veggie!) or your favourite parmesan sub

Cook the lasagne noodles according to the package directions—don’t overcook!  Rinse and drain them and lay them out flat on a baking sheet.

Place the sliced kale in a large pot.  Boil about 1 quart of water (in an electric kettle, if you have one—it saves energy) and pour it slowly over the kale, mixing with a long spoon until it is all submerged.  Cover and let it sit for about 10 minutes while you slice the onions, etc.  After 10 minutes, drain the kale in a colander, rinse briefly with cold water (until cool enough to handle), and then squeeze as much water as possible out of the kale.  Fluff it out a bit with your fingers after squeezing it.

Heat the oils in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat and add the sliced onions and sausage crumbles. Sauté them, stirring frequently, until the onion has softened and the sausage browned a bit.  Add the garlic and red chile flakes (if using) and sauté briefly. Add the kale to the pan and sauté again briefly.  Season the mixture to taste with salt and freshly-ground pepper.

Preheat the oven to 400°F, if you are going to bake immediately after assembling the lasagne.

Oil a 9 x 13” bakingpan or dish.  Lay 4 of the lasagne noodles to cover the bottom of the pan. Spread the noodles evenly with 1 cup of the spaghetti sauce.  Add half of the sausage/kale mixture and spread evenly.  Cover that with half of the ricotta, spreading evenly.  Sprinkle evenly with 1/3 of the soy parmesan.  Lay 4 more of the lasagne noodles over the casserole. 

Repeat the layering as before.  Cover with the remaining 4 lasagna noodles.  Spread evenly with the remaining 1 cup of spaghetti sauce and sprinkle with the last of the soy parmesan.  Cover the pan loosely with foil or baking parchment.

Bake at 400°F for 40 minutes.  Remove the foil or baking parchment and let sit for about 10 minutes before cutting.


Monday, August 18, 2014


Best Blog Tips

This is a different take on the Charred Corn, Black Bean & Toasted Barley Salad from an excellent book in my cookbook collection called “Spilling the Beans” by Julie Van Rosendaal and Sue Duncan.  My husband doesn't like barley in salads and I had no mangoes or red onion, so this is my riff on this colorful full-meal salad. It is filling, colorful and delicious! I made this for lunch last week when we had guests and it was very well-received.

Serves 8

2 cups vegan broth
2 heaping cups fresh or frozen (thawed) sweet corn kernels, thawed and drained
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cups canned (19 oz. can) or cooked black beans, rinsed and drained
1 yellow or orange bell pepper (or a combination of both), seeded and chopped
1 cup diced red grape tomatoes
4 ripe peaches or nectarines, peeled and diced
1/2 cup chopped green onions (both white and green parts)
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley (some chopped fresh mint would be nice, too, if you have it)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup fresh lemon or lime juice
2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon agave nectar
2 cloves garlic, crushed
a generous 1/2 teaspoon salt

1. In a medium saucepan, toast the dry quinoa over medium-high heat for a few minutes, or until golden and toasty-smelling. Immediately pour in the broth, bring to a boil, turn the heat down to low, cover and cook for 20 minutes.  When it is done (it should have absorbed all of the broth and be fluffy), transfer it to a large serving bowl to cool completely. (If you’re in hurry, spread the quinoa on a rimmed baking sheet and place in the freezer for a few minutes.)

2.  Mix the corn kernels with the 2 teaspoons olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet and spread it out evenly.   Place it on your oven rack about 6 inches below the broiler coils.  Broil under the heat source (I turned my broiler on to High) until the kernels start to brown and get charred a bit.. Remove them from the oven and set aside to cool. (If you’re in hurry, spread the charred corn on a fresh rimmed baking sheet and place in the freezer for a few minutes.)

3. In a small bowl or jar, combine all the dressing ingredients and whisk well to combine.

4. Add the cooled corn, beans, peppers, tomato, peaches or nectarines, green onion and parsley. Add the dressing and toss well.

5. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to a few hours before serving.


Monday, August 11, 2014


Best Blog Tips

I'm sorry I haven't blogged for so long!  This is company time on the island, so we've been super-busy entertaining. I haven't had time to devise anything new lately-- I've been cooking up tried and true recipes for my guests! So, I'm posting an old favorite family recipe this week.

This was a spur of the moment recipe that I devised several years ago. I wanted to do something different with Butler Soy 
Curls® (see this post for info), but any "chicken-style" seitan cut into strips or commercial vegan “chicken” strips will work, too. Kids of all ages love them! Serve them with any favorite dip,barbecue sauce, or chile sauce (I mixed half ketchup and half tomato salsa), and enjoy!

Serves 4

4 oz Soy Curls® (pick out and use the longest strips), reconstituted in hot chicken-style
vegan broth OR use 4 cups “chickeny" seitan cut into "fingers"
1 cup soy or nut milk
1 Tbs lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 Tbs paprika
1/2 Tbs dried oregano
1/2 Tbs salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
freshly-ground black pepper to taste

In a large flat baking dish, mix the reconstituted, drained Soy Curls®, or the seitan
"fingers", with the soymilk, lemon juice and garlic. Let it marinate for 1 to 4 hours in the

Mix together the Coating mixture ingredients well in another flat baking dish.

Preheat the oven to 400° F. Have ready two large dark-colored baking sheets which have been  
sprayed with oil from a pump sprayer bottle.

Just before serving, dredge each strip in the Coating mixture, covering all sides. Place
the strips, not touching, on the baking sheets. Spray the tops with a bit of oil from a

Bake for 10 minutes, then turn the strips over and bake 5 more minutes, until golden and
crispy. Serve hot with your favorite dip or sauce.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 214.0 calories; 24% calories from fat; 5.9g total fat; 0.0mg
cholesterol; 887.4mg sodium; 201.5mg potassium; 27.6g carbohydrates; 6.2g fiber; 2.9g

sugar; 14.4g protein. 


Wednesday, July 30, 2014


Best Blog Tips

When I posted this blog post about a recent picnic, I promised to  post the recipe for my multi-grain inari sushi.  It took me a few years to get this recipe right-- I had tasted enough bland and either dry or mushy brown rice sushi in my time to make me determined to do better!  I wanted a sushi that was nutritious, and delicious enough so that anyone eating it would enjoy it for what it was and not immediately think " health food"!

My rice mixture is made from short grain brown rice with some millet or quinoa added, and it is nicely seasoned.  The grain mixture provides variety and extra nutrients, but the texture of the rice predominates, which is what I prefer. (I find the millet or quinoa grains too small and separate to use alone in sushi.) This whole grain sushi mix does not taste heavy or starchy, and I was happy to discover that the seasoned fried tofu pockets or pouches (agé) are less calorific and fat-laden than I had assumed-- the seasoned ones contain only about 60 calories per pouch. We love it for summer meals.

BTW, inari sushi is great for anyone (like my husband) who does not like seaweed, and it makes great picnic food.  It should not be refrigerated, since this makes the rice hard, so plan to eat it up in one day (which is not a difficult feat!).

I hope you enjoy this sushi!

This was a batch of my multi-grain inari sushi, tops dipped in toasted sesame seeds, that I made for a picnic with friends a few weeks ago.
Printable Recipe

Makes 16 pockets

16 storebought seasoned inari sushi pouches (You can buy them refrigerated in Asian grocery stores in small packets, or in cans on amazon and from online Asian food venders.)
OR, if you are preparing your own seasoned inari sushi pouches, you will need:
1 package (80 g-- 8 pieces) of abura agé (plain, unseasoned Japanese fried tofu rectangles), cut across in half to make "pouches" (You can buy them refrigerated or frozen in Asian grocery stores and some natural food stores in small packets.)
Flavoring Broth:
2 T. soy sauce or tamari
2 T. dry sherry or mirin (Japanese rice wine) (or a non-alcoholic sweetish white wine)

(To cook the grains, for each one, bring the water and grain to a boil in a heavy pot with a tight lid, turn down to low and cook covered for the time indicated.)

Grain Choice #1:
3/4 c. Japanese short grain brown rice + 1/4 c. toasted millet
, cooked together 40-45 minutes in 
1 1/2 c. water 
(Toast the millet in a dry heavy saute pan or skillet over medium heat, stirring all the while, until light brown and fragrant. If the grains start to pop, reduce the heat.) 
OR Grain Choice #2:
1/2 cup Japanese short grain brown rice cooked in 2/3 cup water for 45 minutes
1/2 cup quinoa cooked separately in 1 cup water for 15 minutes  
(Let the quinoa stand, covered, off the heat 10 minutes.)
3/8 tsp. salt
Optional but recommended: 1 T. dry sherry or mirin (Japanese rice wine)
Additions: (Traditionally, only seasoned rice is used for filling, but I like to add some color and texture with vegetables.)
1/2 c. frozen baby peas, thawed
1 medium carrot, peeled and finely grated
Optional: toasted sesame seeds to taste

If you are preparing your own seasoned inari sushi pouches, cut each piece of abura agé tofu across in half.  Pour boiling water over them, then drain and squeeze them carefully to remove the oil.

In a medium pot, bring the flavoring broth to a boil, add the tofu pockets and reduce the heat.  Simmer for 5 minutes, turning now and then.  Drain and cool until you can handle them.  Gently squeeze out excess liquid.   

Whichever type of seasoned pouches you are using-- store-bought or home-prepared-- carefully separate one “wall” of each pocket from the other to make the pouches.

Dump the hot cooked rice (make sure it is tender) and the millet or quinoa into a large shallow baking dish.  Mix the sugar and salt with the vinegar and wine until it is dissolved.  Pour this over the hot rice.  Turn the rice mixture with a small spatula (wooden, preferably, or a bamboo rice paddle), using an over-and-under-motion, until the mixture is cool.  (Traditionally, you fan the rice while you mix.)

Add the peas and carrots and a bit of the optional toasted sesame seeds, if you like.  Stuff the pockets carefully and evenly (there should be just enough filling for 16 pockets).  Traditionally the pouches are not stuffed full and the pouch is pinched closed at the top, but, as you can see in the pictures, I usually fill them full full and leave them open at the top. 

If you like, you can dip the tops in toasted sesame seeds.  Serve at room temperature.  Rice gets hard when refrigerated, which spoils the texture of the dish, so the sushi pouches should be eaten the same day they are made.