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.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Cauliflower Bisque (Love Soup, by Anna Thomas)

What a glorious soup! Truly, perhaps the best soup we have ever eaten! The color was magnificent. These photos really don’t capture the delicate creamy yellow that was the end result of cauliflower and carrot gently cooked and then blended. I wondered if the method of sautéing the carrot and celery before adding them to the cauliflower-broth mixture would really make a difference, but I don’t think I would change a single thing about this recipe. Follow the method to the letter and you won’t be disappointed.

Here’s what you need:
1 large white cauliflower, trimmed and cut in small pieces
4 C LIGHT colored vegetable broth
2 C water
1 lemon, cut large strips of peel off (don’t cut into the white pithy part) and then squeeze
1 ½ t sea salt
2 medium carrots, peeled, trimmed and cut in pieces
2 medium stalks celery, trimmed and cut in pieces
1 large sweet onion, peeled, trimmed and diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 T olive oil
1 t herbes de Provence (a MUST for this recipe!)
2-3 ounces cream cheese

Garnish – buttered bread crumbs
1 C freshly made soft bread crumbs
2 T non-dairy butter

Here’s what you do:
Heat the oil and saute the carrot, celery, onion, and salt until soft and beginning to brown on the edges. Add the garlic and herbes de Provence and cook for another minute until very fragrant. Never brown your garlic, so maintain a gentle heat.
In the meantime: 
Simmer the cauliflower in the water and broth. Also add in two large pieces of the lemon peel. Again, be careful not to cut into the white pith. Add 2 T of the lemon juice. This should simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes. After that, remove the lemon peel.
Add the carrot mixture to the soup pot and continue to simmer, covered,  for another 15 minutes or so.
Next, add the cream cheese and allow to melt into the soup.
When the soup has cooled a bit, blend until very smooth. Add more salt and/or lemon juice if needed.

To make the buttered bread crumbs:
Place large chunks of day old bread in a food processor and create crumbs – not too small, but not too big.

Saute the crumbs in the melted butter until nice and toasted. Store flat on a baking sheet or place until ready to use.  

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Butternut and Apple Soup

A new year is upon us and that’s a good thing. I love a new start. Yes, I love Mondays. I love new novels and new shoes. I love new haircuts. I love to taste a new wine or to eat at a new restaurant. I just purchased new drinking glasses and, honestly, I feel like singing!

Adding an apple to a squash soup was new to me…..and I loved it. Be forewarned, this soup is not like other squash soups you may be familiar with. There’s no brown sugar, no nutmeg, no curry…just that apple. And that’s enough.

Here’s what you need:
2 C cubed butternut squash
2 leeks, sliced and washed thoroughly
1 medium onion, diced
1 russet potato, peeled and cubed
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and cubed
1 quart vegetable broth

Here’s what you do:
Throw it in a soup pot, simmer for about 30 minutes, allow to cool a bit, blend.

I guess I could have added a garnish, but , whatever….. I am actually sipping a cup of this soup as I write this post….no time for parsley.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Asparagus and Walnut Lasagna

Here is a very simple and elegant lasagna based on a recipe found in the tiny gem of a cookbook: “Vegan…Made Simple.” I have mentioned this book before and I can’t recommend it enough. (As I write this, I see there are used copies on for $.01… kidding!)

Check out how simple the ingredient list is. The method is equally simple. The result is very sophisticated.

Here’s What You Need:
1 pound of fresh asparagus
2 T olive oil
2 T non-dairy butter
½ C minced onion
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ C flour
4 C soy milk
1 T soy sauce
1 T Worcestershire sauce (optional because this is not a vegan ingredient)
1 C chopped walnuts, divided
8 lasagna noodles

Here’s What You Do:
Prepare the lasagna noodles as directed on the package. Set aside.
Use a vegetable peeler to remove the tough ends of the asparagus. Lightly steam it. Set aside.
Sautee the onion and garlic in the oil and butter until they are very soft, but not brown. 

Add in the flour and incorporate it into the melted fats. Add the milk, a bit at a time, whisking it thoroughly. When the milk has all been added, continue to cook over medium high heat until it thickens. Season with soy and optional Worcestershire.
Layer ½ of the asparagus, ½ of the walnuts and 1/3 of the sauce in the bottom of a 9x9 baking dish. Arrange 4 of the lasagna noodles over the sauce. Make another layer, ending with sauce. Sprinkle 1 few table spoons of walnuts on the top of the casserole. Bake for about 20-30 minutes until warm and bubbly.

Allow to cook for at least 5 minutes before cutting and serving. 

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Lemony Carrot Top Pesto

If you are lucky enough to come across freshly picked carrots at your local farmers market, buy them. Especially if they still have their gorgeous lacy green tops. Make a simple carrot soup with the roots and for a gourmet finish, make a pesto with a handful of the tops. You won't regret it! I use this beautiful green pesto in all sorts of ways. You see it here smeared on a grilled cheese sandwich. Puts a soup and sandwich meal over the top.

Lemony Carrot Top Pesto

Here's what you need:
2-3 garlic cloves
1/2 C raw almonds
large handful fresh carrot tops
small handful fresh parsley or basil
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt to taste
olive oil

Here's what you do:
While the food processor is running, drop in the garlic cloves. This will chop them very finely. Add the almonds and greens and run the processor, helping incorporate all the leaves with a spatula if necessary. Add about 1/2 cup olive oil and continue to process. Add salt and pepper and lemon juice to taste. This pesto can be as thin or thick as you prefer.

This pesto freezes nicely. Use it as a dollop on soup, or mixed in dressings or over pasta.
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