Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Monday, August 27, 2012


Best Blog Tips

In the summer I always have a hearty grain/bean/vegetable/and/or/pasta salad (or 2) in the fridge, just as I have a soup (same basic ingredients) around during the colder weather.  Not only do DH and I take some for work lunches, and eat them for lunch or dinner when we're in a hurry or too pooped to cook, but they make for hearty, healthy snacking, too.

Yesterday, I found that we were salad-less, so I checked the fridge, freezer and cupboard for items that needed using and other likely ingredients.  Since I had some skinny green beans already semi-cooked in the refrigerator, I decided to make some sort of 3-Bean Salad, but not a sweet one. Rummaging around, I found a cut red onion (well-wrapped, of course) in the vegetable drawer, shelled edamame (green soybeans) in the freezer, a can of Romano beans and a jar of roasted red peppers in the cupboard.  And, let's not forget, plenty of basil growing in pots on the back deck and some fresh, locally-grown Rocambole garlic from some neighbors up the road.  Plenty of fodder for a great salad-- just needs a dressing.  The result is the recipe below.

                                                                      Rocambole garlic

But, first, the "happy accident".

I'm not providing a recipe, just a guide, because it was a spur of the moment recipe and I didn't write it down. Two nights ago, I had made a simple-but-delicious Greek-style white bean dish with lots of peppers and onions braised in a little olive oil and their own juices. (See photo at right.) The recipe is on my blog here.  I had doubled the amount of white beans in the dish this time because my stepson was here and he is usually a big eater.  But, he was in a hurry, so I ended up with leftovers, which turned out to be the basis of another good salad.  The bean dish is flavored with garlic, basil and some red wine vinegar, so I figured that we were pretty much there already!

I also had some leftover bulgur wheat pilaf in the refrigerator, made with extra-coarse (#4) bulgur, which cooks up almost like barley, so I decided to mix that in with the leftover bean dish and season with a little of my usual balsamic vinaigrette.  It turned out to be very delicious, particularly, I believe, because of the large amount of braised bell peppers and onions in the original dish.

So, make the recipe for Greek-Style White Beans with Peppers and Onions in Olive Oil, but use 2 cans (or 4 cups home-cooked) white kidney beans or cannellini beans.  Use 2 parts cold, leftover bean dish to 1 part cooked grain. (You can use any cooked whole grain that you like.) Add a large handful of chopped Italian (flat-leaf) parsley and season with your favorite vinaigrette (not too much, because the beans are already seasoned-- add a bit, mix, taste...).  Keep refrigerated until serving. That's it!

**Now, here's the new 3-Bean Salad recipe:

Serves 4 to 6

1 large roasted red pepper (home-roasted or from a jar, rinsed), seeded and chopped
1 cup frozen shelled edamame (green soybeans), boiled for 4 minutes and drained
about 10 oz. of  thin fresh green beans, steamed or boiled just until crisp-tender, drained
2 cups cooked or canned (one 19 oz. can) Romano (or pinto) beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
1/3 cup minced red or sweet onion
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (or organic bottled)
1/4 cup aquafaba or Oil Substitute for salad Dressings
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon smooth Dijon mustard
1 large clove garlic, crushed
3/4 teaspoon salt
freshly-ground black pepper to taste

Gently toss together all of the vegetables, herbs and onion in a large bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk together the Dressing ingredients.  Pour over the vegetables and toss again.  Taste for salt and pepper.  Keep refrigerated until serving.


Friday, August 24, 2012


Best Blog Tips

This is the third summer in a row that I have tackled Peruvian lucuma ice cream, vegan-style:

Take #1, 2010:

Take #2, 2011:

Lucuma is a Peruvian fruit and, as many of you may know, my father was Peruvian. I remember lucuma ice cream from my three months in Peru as a six-year-old. Lucuma is a fruit with a quite dry texture, so it is mostly used to make a delectable, rich ice cream. Lucuma itself is rather sweet and has a butterscotch-y sort of flavor. When I was in Vancouver in August 2010, I found a store with Peruvian foods and bought some frozen lucuma puree-- what a coup, I thought!

Now, ideally, I would use the pulp of the fresh fruit, but it's hard to come by lucuma fruit on Vancouver Island. So, I was thrilled to find a bag of frozen lucuma pulp and I set about working out a recipe using it.  Here is what I wrote in 2010: "I worked out a recipe based on my vanilla gelato recipe made with Instant Clearjel, with the help of a (non-vegan) recipe from the internet. After splattering the kitchen with soy cream after a little accident (Mercury is in retrograde-- what can I say?), I made the mix and tasted it-- WAY too sweet!! I couldn't figure it out! My gelato is not as sweet as most, and I had used less sweetener than the non-vegan recipe called for (in relation to the volume of liquid, etc.). So, I got out my (new, under-used) reading glasses and read the small print on the bag of lucuma puree-- sugar! I had been assuming that it was unsweetened, since the label did not say 'sweetened' and the recipes I found online all called for unsweetened puree. My mistake!" (Read the rest of the adventure here.)

I ended up making a pretty successful batch after that one, with no sugar in it.  But, unfortunately, I knew that I would not be able to order lucuma pulp (sweetened or not) on the internet, so I wanted to find an alternative.  The obvious was lucuma powder. It seems that lucuma is all the rage in the raw foods community and is even used as a natural sweetener. I found some at a good price from this Canadian vendor, and ordered 2 lbs for future experiments. In August of 2011 I developed a recipe for the ice cream using the lucuma powder. It was pretty tasty, but, of course, not as good as that made with the fruit itself.

The other day I decided to use up my last bit of the sweetened lucuma puree in my freezer and make the ice cream without nondairy creamer in it.  Because I used plain, unsweetened soymilk and no creamer, I ended up adding just 2 tablespoons of agave nectar. The recipe is simple to make and I thought the texture was great.  The taste was good and we certainly enjoyed it, but I am still on the trail of a vegan, North American version with real authentic Peruvian flavor-- I'll have to track down some unsweetened puree and use more of it, but, next, I'll try using more lucuma powder and I have a few ideas up my sleeve. (If you've used these products with any success, I'd love to hear about it!)  Stay tuned!

Printable Recipe

Servings: 12
Yield: 6 cups

3 cups unsweetened nondairy milk of choice (I used a commercial almond milk)
1 1/2 cups sweetened lucuma pulp/puree
1 cup raw cashews or cashew pieces, soaked in boiling water for 10 minutes and drained
(if allergic to nuts, use 3/4 cup more nondairy milk and 2 tablespoons oil)
2 tablespoons agave nectar
1/2 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Description: or vanilla pasteDescription:
3/8 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 teaspoons Instant Clearjel®
 OR 1/8 tsp. guar gum or xanthan gum
(see this post about Instant Clearjel)

Place the milk, and lucuma puree into a blender along with the soaked, drained cashews, and blend until VERY smooth and frothy (make sure that it is not grainy at all).

Mix all of the remaining ingredients, into this mixture and blend again until it is VERY smooth .

Chill the mixture thoroughly, and then freeze according to directions for your ice cream machine. Scoop into a quart plastic container, cover and freeze for several hours (preferably 24 hours) before serving.


Thursday, August 16, 2012


Best Blog Tips

I'm sorry that I haven't blogged at all for a couple of weeks-- I've had lots of company, and it was great fun-- granddaughters galore (6 of them), and one lone 8-yr-old grandson whom I don't see enough; two grown-up daughters; my son and a stepson in and out; and a friend or two.  

Here's some dishes we ate--with links to most of the recipes (besides ALOT of fruit!)...

A pile of yellow pattypan squash from our garden became..

One day for lunch we tried an inspired veggie hot dog recipe from my friend and fellow cookbook author, Betsy DiJulio-- Oh My “Dog”!: Vegan Thai “Not” Dogs with Asian Kale Slaw, Chili-Lime Mayo, Cilantro and Cashews  -- and they were a big hit!

Along with that we had a Charred Corn, Black Bean & Toasted Barley Salad from the book "Spilling the Beans: Cooking and Baking with Beans and Grains Everyday". (Not a vegan book, but lots of recipes vegans can use or veganize.) The recipe is here (I added some salt to the dressing).

           For our last company dinner, we had some of my husband's yummy homemade bread:

                                     And, since we've got plenty of basil growing on the deck....

I made a creamy pasta dish, using leftover Tofu Sour Cream, Tofu/Cashew Ricotta, and Quick Tofu Feta Crumble (from the squash tart recipe above) mixed with white vermouth, soy milk, garlic, soy parmesan, and LOTS of sliced fresh basil for the sauce.  I also added mushrooms and chopped tomatoes.  I was "winging" it and in a hurry, so I didn't write it down, but it was gobbled up...

For dessert:
A colorful fruit salad and...

                               My Vegan lemon and Coconut "Pound Cake"  from my blog.

And, when we were all alone again, we had this for lunch:
Spaghetti with Garlic, Roasted Chickpeas & Braised Kale or Chard (I used some of both).  DH really liked this and so did I!  It was also from the book "Spilling the Beans: Cooking and Baking with Beans and Grains Everyday". (Not a vegan book, but lots of recipes vegans can use or veganize.) The recipe is online here.

                                                                     And for dinner:

Quinoa and Smoked Tofu Salad (The recipe is from Eating Well magazine and online here-- I didn't have any cucumber, so I used radishes and some red bell pepper, and I used My Mother's Lemon Salad Dressing [x2] instead of theirs.)

Spinach Salad with Mushrooms, Artichokes and Sundried Tomatoes with Creamy Lemon-Agave Dressing from my blog.

I'll be writing again soon!

Sunday, August 5, 2012


Best Blog Tips

I developed this recipe some time ago, but somehow never got around to posting it.  It's one of our favorite low-fat summer treats now.  It's so simple and easy to make and contains very little sugar because of the natural sweetness of pineapple.  No one ever guesses that there is tofu in it because silken tofu has a very neutral taste and an extremely smooth texture, and because pineapple is the main ingredient. Large flakes of toasted coconut coated in caramel-ly brown rice syrup add some crunch, contrast and texture to the smooth sherbet. I hope you'll enjoy it as much as we do!

Printable Recipe

 Servings: 10
Yield: 5 cups
This not-very-sweet sherbet has the surprise of syrup-coated toasted coconut flakes throughout. The brown rice syrup has a delightful caramel-like flavor. The Instant Clear-Jel or vegetable gum keeps the mixture from freezing solid and gives the sherbet a creamy quality.  You can use an electric ice cream maker (I have a Cuisinart) or a simple table-top hand-crank model.

1/ 12.3 oz. box    extra-firm or firm SILKEN tofu ( can be reduced-fat)  
5 tablespoons    unbleached organic granulated sugar  
3 1/2 teaspoons    lemon juice  (fresh or organic bottled)
1/2 teaspoon    vanilla extract  
3/4 teaspoon    Instant Clear-Jel (See about this product and where to get it at this post) OR 1/4 tsp. xanthan gum or guar gum  
1 pinch    of salt  
1/19 oz  can  crushed unsweetened pineapple (or tidbits) with juice  
Add after freezing:  
1/2 cup    large (wide-cut) unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted  
1/4 cup    brown rice syrup (No substitutes! This syrup has the caramel-ly flavor needed here.)
In the blender, mix until smooth the first 5 ingredients. When smooth, add the pineapple and juice and blend again.

Chill the mixture thoroughly and freeze according to your ice cream maker's directions. Scoop the frozen mixture into a cold bowl or shallow storage container. Keep frozen.

Mix the toasted coconut flakes and brown rice syrup together in a small bowl. Remove the sherbet from the freezer and drop "blobs" of the coconut/syrup mixture over the top of the sherbet. Swirl through the ice cream with a spoon, distributing it throughout the sherbet. Freeze until serving time. (You may have to leave it out at room temperature for a little while to soften it a bit before scooping. Or follow Real Simple magazine's advice: " Microwave on high [power level 10] in 10-second intervals, checking in between, until ice cream reaches desired consistency.")
 Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 137.7 calories; 14% calories from fat; 2.3g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 63.7mg sodium; 135.9mg potassium; 28.6g carbohydrates; 0.9g fiber; 24.7g sugar; 27.8g net carbs; 3.4g protein; 2.8 points. 



Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Best Blog Tips

Last Sunday we had a family party (24 of us) for my granddaughter Mariah's 13th birthday.  Because Mariah loves coffee flavor, I made two 9 x 13-inch Chocolate Mudpie Cakes with Coffee/Coconut/Pecan Icing (except that I used almonds instead of pecans, which I was short of).  To go with it, I made a double batch of the following ice cream. There were only a few vegans there, but everyone loved this rich-tasting treat, and we had no leftovers to bring home (which is a good thing, since we are weight-watching!).

               The Birthday Girl cutting her cake, with eager guests waiting.

A while ago, I started playing with my gelato recipe from my book "Nonna's Italian Kitchen". I wanted to make it richer-tasting, easier to make, and with more servings. One of the things I did was to use Instant Clearjel® instead of the cooked tapioca flour mixture that I generally use (tapioca thickens the mixture instead of eggs, and it has better mouth feel than cornstarch). This eliminates cooking the starch mixture, which means the whole thing takes less time and it doesn't take so long to chill the gelato mixture before freezing. Another option is xanthan gum or guar gum, and I have given the amounts for these in the recipe.

Instant Clearjel® isn't usually available on store shelves-- here in Canada a few years ago I had to get 11 lbs. of it from a bakery supply company (Snowcap)-- my husband worked at a bakery-- but perhaps a bakery would sell you a smaller amount (this amount will last me for life!). Gourmet Warehouse in Vancouver, BC used to have it, but no longer lists it.  PS: if it doesn't say "instant" it won't work in this recipe.

In the US, you can mail-order it from, and .

I plan to experiment with more vegan ice creams, gelati and sorbets over the summer, so stay tuned.  I hope you enjoy this one, which is a variation of "Butter Pecan".

Printable Recipe

 Servings: 12
Yield: approximately 1 1/2 qts. (6 cups)
Due to the addition of the melted vegan buttery spread (essential for the flavor of this recipe) and the nuts, this is little richer than most of my ice cream recipes.

NOTES: The Instant Clearjel®  (or guar or xanthan gum) in the recipe makes the ice cream very creamy and prevents it from getting rock-hard in the freezer.

You will need a home ice cream maker for this recipe. If you don’t have an electric version (this is the one I have), an inexpensive hand-cranked version (the type that uses a metal cylinder which is kept frozen in the freezer until used), such as the Donvier, works just fine (and you only have to turn the handle 3 or 4 times every few minutes).
4 1/4 cups    commercial almond milk (original style)
3/4 cup    maple syrup (grade B is fine)
3/4 cup    granulated organic unbleached sugar 
1/4 cup melted good-tasting vegan buttery spread (such as my homemade Buttah)
1 tablespoon    pure vanilla extract or vanilla paste  
2 3/4 teaspoons    Instant Clearjel®  OR 3/8 tsp. guar gum or xanthan gum
3/8 teaspoon    salt
1/2 cup chopped whole (un-blanched) almonds (do not leave them in large chunks) 
1 tablespoon good-tasting vegan buttery spread (such as my homemade Buttah)
Process all of the ingredients EXCEPT the almonds and last tablespoon of buttery spread in a blender until VERY smooth and frothy (make sure that it is not grainy at all).

Chill the ice cream mixture thoroughly—this is very important!

While it chills, melt the 1 tablespoon vegan buttery spread in a medium-sized heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chopped almonds and stir constantly until they are getting golden.  Scrape onto a plate and place that in the freezer.

When the ice cream mixture is thoroughly cold, freeze it according to directions for your ice cream machine. When it is firm, but still moving, slowly add the chilled toasted almonds and churn a little bit longer. Scoop into freezer containers, cover and freeze for several hours before serving.
 Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per 1/2 cup serving): 193.0 calories; 34% calories from fat; 7.9g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 133.4mg sodium; 147.1mg potassium; 30.0g carbohydrates; 1.1g fiber; 27.2g sugar; 29.0g net carbs; 1.6g protein; 4.3 points.