Thursday, April 27, 2017

Biryani


The most delicious, flavorful, spice-warm rice you will ever eat. There are many recipes on the internet to choose from, but mine is pretty darn good, so don’t even bother to shop around. You could serve this with a huge salad and grilled mushrooms or tofu and it would be an impressive meal. I served mine with a cauliflower and pea curry which had the same flavor profile as the biryani, so I don’t think the rice  got its well-deserved acclaim. 

I found a recipe for bryani (a typo?)  in “The Vegetarian Epicure” by Anna Thomas, copyright 1972. 1972! The entire cookbook is quite a walk down ‘hippie’ lane, but there are some gems between the pages. I made some modifications and those are reflected below.


Biryani
Here’s what you need:
¼ C non-dairy butter
1 ½ t cumin seeds
1 ½ t mustard seeds
¼ t cayenne pepper
½ t salt
1 clove garlic, crushed and minced
¼ t turmeric
¼ t ground ginger
½ t ground cinnamon
½ t ground coriander
1 large eggplant, peeled and diced
1 C sliced green onions
1 C blanched fresh wax beans (yellow beans), cut in 1 inch pieces
1 C chopped  jarred sweet red peppers
1 C chopped fresh tomatoes
4-5 C cooked rice, which has been prepared in vegetable broth
2/3 C roasted cashews, chopped in large pieces (or left whole for a better presentation)
½ C golden raisins



Here’s what you do:
Melt the butter and stir in the spices for a few minutes. Add the vegetables. Stir well and cook until veg is a bit soft. Add the cooked rice, cashews, and raisins. Stir well and pour in a buttered casserole. Cover tightly and bake at 350 degrees for about ½ hour. 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Creamy Vegan Asparagus Soup


I hit it out of the asparagus ballpark with this one, folks. You know when asparagus season hits, it hits hard, so take note of this beautiful soup and add it to your pile of asparagus recipes. Not only was the flavor excellent, but the delicate green color was really pretty. Be sure to save the tips of the asparagus for a garnish.

Here’s what you need:
2 bunches fresh asparagus, cut in 1 inch pieces, tips reserved
2 T butter
1 large sweet onion, diced
6 C vegetable broth (light in color if possible)
Lemon zest (nice as a garnish, or added in the soup)
Lemon juice from 1 lemon
½ C raw cashews

Here’s what you do:
Sautee the onions in the butter. Add the asparagus (reserve the tips) and the broth. Simmer until the veg is very soft.
Carefully transfer the asparagus mixture to a blender and whirl. You may need to strain it. 
Whirl the cashews in a high-speed blender with about 1 C water to create a cream. Add this to the soup along with the lemon juice.
Drop the asparagus tips in boiling water for a minute or two, just until tender. Use them as a garnish.



Monday, April 10, 2017

Herb and Lemon White Bean Hummus


Are there any original recipes out there at all anymore? What with the internet and the plethora of cookbooks, I can barely imagine an original *anything* any more.

Actually, that's not entirely the case, because I have invented plenty of memorable recipes, many of which appear here on this blog. I do follow many, many recipes to the letter, but sometimes I riff and create and go off in various ways.

Here is a basic white bean hummus from "Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan" by Dreena Burton. I did everything she said....except I added lots of lemon zest (reflected below).

 I kept mine a bit chunky and I think I added too much water at the end, but oh well! It's hummus, not rocket science.

Super delicious. Very light. Not too garlicky which is nice once in a while. Good as a dip or rolled in tortillas. Eat it with a spoon or with veg or crackers or tortilla chips.

Herb and Lemon White Bean Hummus
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 T fresh lemon juice or more to taste
lots of lemon zest
1 T tahini
1 clove garlic
1-2 T olive oil
2 T red wine vinegar
1/2 t Dijon
1/2 t sea salt
black pepper to taste
water as needed to thin
fresh herbs: thyme and basil: to taste

Blend it all together. Thin with water. Add herbs.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Orange Black Bean Taquitos and Chickpea Avocado Salad (Forks Over Knives)



It’s hard to say when my eating preferences changed. It’s hard to say why they changed. As I have  mentioned before, I do know there were a few events all occurring at once, 4 ½ years ago, that motivated me to try eating a vegan diet. My daughter was living with a vegan at the time, and we were super curious about her food. She shared her recipe for potato tacos with roasted jalapeno crema, and we were in love.

Also, at that same time, some health issues arose in the family- some small, some large – but enough to be a wake-up call regarding our health. Less cholesterol and more green stuff.

Thirdly, my blog was in need of a boost, and participating in Vegan Month of Food (the VeganMoFo….which I loved then and still love to this day) seemed like the right amount of challenge. One month of vegan meals. What could happen?

Well, what happened was that I became vegan.

Along the way, I was inspired by books and podcasts and blogs and cookbooks and one movie in particular. It’s called “Forks Over Knives” and if you have not viewed it, I highly encourage you to check it out. It’s not a scary ‘animal rights’ film or a film that makes you feel guilty for eating cheese. It’s simply an explanation of why eating animal foods is harmful to our health. It changed my life….yes, a movie changed my life.

Here are two recipes from the Forks Over Knives website. I’m positive they won’t mind me sharing them with you.

Orange Black Bean Taquitos (original recipe HERE)
1 large yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 t cumin seeds, toasted and ground
2 chiptole peppers in adobo sauce, minced
Zest and juice of two oranges
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
Salt
Corn tortillas
Toppings (guacamole, salsa, spicy sour cream, etc. )

Sauté the onions in a tiny bit of water for a few minutes until they begin to soften and brown. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time to keep them from sticking. Add the garlic and continue to cook. Add the cumin, peppers, orange zest and juice, and the black beans.
Salt to taste and puree in a food processor. It doesn’t need to be completely smooth.
Soften the tortillas in a dry, hot, non-stick pan and spoon about 2-3 T of the bean mixture in each tortilla. Roll them up and brown them in a hot, non-stick pan until they are toasted.

Chickpea Avocado Salad (original recipe HERE)
2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 small red onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced or passed through a press ( I usually omit raw garlic, as I do in this recipe)
Zest of 1 lime and juice of 4 limes
1 jalapeno pepper, seed and veins removed for less heat
½ C chopped cilantro
Salt to taste
1 avocado, coarsely chopped


Combine all the ingredients and mix well. Add the avocado carefully just before serving. 

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Curried Potatos and Peas in Butter Lettuce (with Tomato Chutney)


Look at that plate of beautiful food! It's enough just to feast on the colors and textures, but it's the flavors that make this meal really special.

These excellent recipes come from Vegetarian Today magazine (April 2017). They suggest serving the potato mixture samosa style - stuffed in pie crust and baked-- like a hand held pie. I decided to serve it on butter lettuce and it was amazing!

I don't think I should post the recipes here because of copyright issues. I'm positive you can find recipes for potato and pea curry and also a spicy tomato chutney all over the internet. And if you are a subscriber to Vegetarian Today (formerly Vegetarian Times) check out the recipes there. AMAZING. This one is going in the 'save' pile

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Easy Vegan Gravy


Here's a simple recipe that packs a perfect punch when you need a quick gravy. I served it over a creamy cauliflower and potato mash. Please notice the gorgeous Portobello Wellington on the plate also! You can't believe how easy that Wellington is....find the recipe HERE.

Easy Vegan Gravy
 
Here's what you need:
1/2 C flour
1/2 C nutritional yeast
pinch oregano
pinch black pepper
olive oil
soy sauce
soy milk

Here's what you do:
In a cast iron skillet, toast the flour, yeast, oregano, and pepper. When you see the flour browning and it starts to smell toasty, blend in just enough olive oil to create a roux. Stir and whisk and stir and whisk. Add water and soy milk to create a gravy that is a pleasing consistency. At the end, add a few shakes of soy sauce.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Shannon’s Four Greens Pesto


My sister-in-law made this delicious pesto for us when she was here visiting from her home in Brazil.



 It was October and we spent time up north where we rented the most glorious house for a few days. Can you picture the very tip of the Leelanau Peninsula?  Not sure what I’m talking about? Well, can you picture the very tip of the pinky finger in the imaginary “Michigan Map” that your left hand makes? The very tippy tip? That’s where we were, mainly dodging rain drops and battling cold Michigan wind.


There is a wild beauty in the outdoors in October as you can see from my photos. You can also see that I tried to capture all the shades of color that I saw in a 5 minute period out our window.


Can you read the recipe and figure it out? Basically, put it all in the food processor and serve over fettuccine, garnishing with the obvious things.  I didn’t think using all four greens would be good ...that it would have too many flavors. But I was wrong. This is a super pesto! 


Monday, March 6, 2017

Roasted Curry Cauliflower


“Everything’s gotta have a concept!” My husband has been repeating this all week long. He is reading a book on how to get people to read your writing (says the woman who writse a tiny blog that has no concept and that no one reads….., but I digress……), and the entire message of the book it this : Everything’s gotta have a concept.


Well, did we experience ‘concept’ recently at Olives and Wine in Traverse City. I would never have imagined such a concept! Upon entering this establishment, you put money on a card and then use the card to purchase glasses of wine. Insert the card, push the button, center the glass under the little hose, and sip! The wine was organized simply in reds and whites, all available to try and taste. At first, it was overwhelming, but after a glass or two, it was super fun! I admit,  I prefer when the waiter teaches me about new wines and makes suggestions based on my preferences,but this was fun! And we had some good wines. 


Another concept at this establishment was the Greek menu. They served an excellent hummus with the most delicious curried cauliflower and I replicated it perfectly at home.


Such a simple preparation, but oh, what powerful flavor! Simply cut an entire head of cauliflower into large flowerets, douse them liberally with olive oil, and spoon lots and lot of curry power over it all. Use your hands to massage it all together and bake at 400 or 450 until its nice and soft and toasty in all the right places.


Monday, February 20, 2017

Parmesan Eggplant Meatballs


I was super irritated the last few summers with the meager supply of eggplants at my local *big box* garden center. Am I really the only person in my town who grows eggplants at home? Can’t the garden centers carry a few plants for the eggplant lovers out there? Apparently not.

Anyway, last year I wanted the classic globe shaped vegetable, but ended up with a Japanese variety. They were way too narrow for eggplant bacon, and I hated to waste them (they grew like crazy!), so I had to find another way to use them. Luckily I found the perfect recipe. Even those of you who are eggplant shy, will enjoy these little beauties.

This is how they look directly from the oven.
Obviously mine were not beautifully shaped balls, but it didn't matter. 


Parmesan Eggplant Meatballs (veganized by me, originally found in the 'Heirloom Gardener' catalog) 
Here’s what you need:
1 ½ pound of firm, small, peeled eggplants, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 T olive oil
½  t salt
½ C fresh parsley
1/3 C fresh basil
1 C panko bread crumbs
2/3 C vegan parmesan cheese (my favorite recipe can be found HERE)
2 eggs (I used 2 flax eggs)

Last night's dinner : I pulled the eggplant meatballs directly from the freezer and fried them. Delicious! Crunchy on the outside and creamy and tender on the inside. 

Here’s what you do:
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Toss eggplant cubes, garlic cloves, and salt with oil and bake in a foil covered baking sheet for 30 minutes, or until everything is nice and soft. Allow to cool and remove any excess moisture by squeezing it out. (To speed along the process, you can chill the veg in an ice bath by putting the hot veg in a big bowl, and then placing the bowl in a larger bowl of ice water.) Increase oven temp to 375.

In a food processor process the parsley and basil until coarse. Add the eggplant, bread crumbs, parmesan, and eggs and blend until its nice and smooth.

Line a baking sheet with parchment, use wet hands, form meatballs about 1 ½ inches in diameter, bake 25 minutes at 375 degrees.

I froze these in dinner-size portions and they have behaved beautifully right from the freezer.


Sunday, February 12, 2017

Festive Portobello Mushroom Wellington from Bosh!


The most difficult part of this beautiful recipe is finding chestnuts. I had never used chestnuts in any capacity, so I was really interested to taste them and learn that they have a very meaty taste and texture. Luckily, I found whole, cooked, and peeled nuts. I can’t imagine the amount of work involved to peel and roast (or steam?) 2 Cups of chestnuts, so look all over your town for prepared nuts….and then forge ahead! This is really a simple recipe and such a beautiful presentation! I am going to remember this for Thanksgiving or Christmas or a dinner party or when company is coming or Sunday dinner or ….. whenever!

I served my wellington with mashed potatoes, peas, and a mushroom gravy. Festive, indeed!


Here’s what you need (directly from the Bosh! Facebook page)
4 portobello mushrooms
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 T fresh thyme (I used 1 t dried)
1 T fresh rosemary (I used 1 t dried)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

1 red onion, minced
1 T fresh rosemary (I used 1 t dried)
Salt and pepper
1 C white wine (dry)
½ T brown sugar
2 C chestnuts
2 C pecans
2 slices seeded bread
½ C vegetable broth

Short crust pastry (I used 2 sheets of puff pastry)
½ C non-dairy, unsweetened milk

Here’s what you do:

Thaw the puff pastry according to the package.

Clean, trim, and roast the mushrooms. I like to scrape out the black gills, but for this recipe, I left the stem intack. Season them with salt, pepper, thyme, rosemary and a splash of olive oil and bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes. Make sure they are nice and soft.  Allow to cool.

Saute the onion in olive oil until translucent. Add rosemary thyme, salt, and pepper. Add the wine and simmer for a bit. Add the brown sugar and caramelize the onions. Set aside.

Process the chestnuts, pecans, and bread in a food processor until it’s all crumbs. Pour into a large bowl and add the onion mixture and mix well. Slowly add the veg broth until the mixture clumps up … not too wet, not too dry. Your hands are the best tool here. 

Here comes the fun part. Place the pastry on a parchment lined baking sheet. Arrange a large amount of the nut mixture over one sheet of pastry, forming it into a long oval of sorts. You’ll need to leave about 1 inch all around the edges. Arrange the four mushrooms over the nuts and then arrange the remaining nut mixture over the mushrooms. For me, it was difficult to get all the nut mixture in, but use whatever you can. The mushrooms should all be encased in the nut mixture. (A hint for the mushrooms: place one right side up, then the next one upside down, then the next one right side up, and the last one upside down. Snuggle them in nice and tight.)



Place the second sheet of pastry over the mound of goodness and crimp the edges with a fork. Trim and use the excess pastry to decorate the top of your wellington. Use a fork to make air holes. Brush the pastry with milk.

Bake on a parchment lined baking sheet at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes, but be sure to check it once in a while.

Cool for a bit and slice carefully with a serrated knife.





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