Vegan Parmesan Cheese Two

I recently took an excellent 'Non-Dairy Cheese Making' class. The room was filled with vegans and the vegan-curious, and I felt so comfortable being with them! Some folks were looking for ways to eliminate lactose from their diets. Others were life long vegans. The woman sitting next to me had been eating vegan for three weeks - I hope she was inspired and not overwhelmed. The diet is amazingly simple - eat vegetables, not animals. All the other stuff, like the following recipe, is just icing on the cake.

This cheese tasted EXACTLY like dairy Parmesan. The only thing I do not like about it is that it kinda melts a bit when sprinkled over hot food and becomes a bit saucy. If you don't mind that, then this is the new Parmesan for you.  I actually mixed in this cheese with a batch of cashew Parmesan I had in the fridge which created a superb creation!

The recipes from the Non-Dairy Cheese Making class came from these books: Artisan Vegan Cheese by Miyoko Schinner, Non-Dairy Formulary by Skye Michael Conroy, and The Un-Cheese Cookbook by Jo Stepaniak. I do not know which author gets credit for this recipe. Sorry!

1 Cup almond meal
1/4 toasted pine nuts
2 T nutritional yeast
1 T mild miso
1/2 t salt
1/4 t onion powder
1/4 t garlic powder

Process in a food processor or high speed blender until finely ground. Store in refrigerator.

Chickpea Cutlets - Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Remember when Valentines Day was all about decorating a shoe box and lugging it to school for the class party? Didn't you secretly dream of getting a Valentine card from that special someone - and then actually read the messages on the cards to see which friend chose which card especially for you? My Valentine went way over and above this year and sent me these beautiful tulips! If you look closely, you can see another bouquet on the piano in the background - 2 dozen!! They did not fit in one vase. I am blessed with love and showered with kindness, thoughtfulness, and appreciation.

So the least I could do in return was clean the kitchen, set the table, and make a nice dinner. I think I did pretty well by choosing Isa Chandra's Chickpea Cutlet, homemade mushroom gravy, mashed potatoes, roasted butternut squash. You can find the Chickpea Cutlet recipe all over the internet, so I won't reprint it here.

The texture of these cutlets is *almost* like meat....but not really. You're supposed to use a knife to cut them.... but you could just use the side of your fork. They are simply some crushed chickpeas and seasonings.....but there is also some of the mysterious wheat gluten thrown in. So, basically, it's a meatless meat for those of us who no longer eat meat, but still want to include a knife when setting the table and chew something toothsome. Try them - they're excellent! In fact, make a double batch.

Spicy Nacho Cheese

Winter has not lost its grip on me. It's snowing right now out my window.  I have been cold, cold these past few weeks. Wool sweaters barely do the trick. I kept my winter coat on in a meeting last week.  Is it my age? Is it my metabolism? Am I tiring of the dark months? Why won't people stop talking about their recent trips to Florida and the islands?

There is, however,  much beauty to be found in the winter months: ice on bare branches, dogs with snowflakes on their noses, children bundled up.

I'm hanging in there till I see my first robin. And I'll keep eating comfort foods.

Spicy Nacho Cheese
(This recipe is much easier if you have all the ingredients in place before you begin)

1/4 C flour
2 T Earth Balance non dairy butter
2 t smooth peanut or almond butter
1 C unsweetened non dairy milk (maybe a bit more)
3/4 t garlic powder
1/2 t salt
1/2 t onion powder
1/4 C nutritional yeast
1 can El Pato brand salsa (or 1 C of your favorite salsa)
chopped pickled jalapenos to taste with a little juice (optional)

Toast the flour by whisking it over medium heat until it starts to produce a warm, toasty smell. It will smell nutty.

 Remove from heat and drop in the margarine and nut butter. Allow them to melt and then whisk them into the flour. Slowly pour the milk into the butter blob and whisk until smooth. It should become quite thick.

 Add the remaining ingredients and adjust the milk to your taste - depending on how thick or thin you want your cheese.

This stuff is great! 

The recipe is inspired  from a Non-Dairy Cheese Making class I recently attended. All the recipes came from these books: Artisan Vegan Cheese by Miyoko Schinner, Non-Dairy Formulary by Skye Michael Conroy, and The Un-Cheese Cookbook by Jo Stepaniak. I do not know which author gets credit for this recipe. Sorry!

A Basic Formula for Veggie Patties

The basic formula for making any kind of veggie burger at home is very simple. Once you have conquered the basics, you may add all sorts of flavors, spices, additional vegetables, and then depending on how wet or dry the mixture is, you may fry or bake the burgers. These turned out a bit too wet for a bun, so I call them patties rather than burgers.

We rarely eat a veg burger in a bun because we're already eating plenty of fiber and carbs. We much prefer eating our veg burgers in a pita pocket or in a tortilla - either flour or corn, depending on what's in the fridge. My favorite way to eat patties or burgers is with a fork and possibly a drizzle of something saucy.

For these patties, I used some leftover, cooked "Three Continent Blend." Here you could use a mixture of grains and beans, or just straight grains (like I did today) or even straight beans. Then I minced and sauteed some carrots, onions, and celery. Sauteed mushrooms are always a big success in this step. Be sure to cook all the water out of them though. Stir in the grains, season well, and blend.

The secret to a good consistency is to remove about 1/2 of the mixture and blend it well in a food processor. Place everything in a bowl, add some bread crumbs or oatmeal or ground crackers. Sometimes I add a flax egg or E-ner G egg, but today I did not. Stir gently. Form patties, Chill. Saute or bake. Sometimes, it works to saute the patties and then also bake them for a bit. It all depends on how wet or dry you want it to be.

Smashed Chickpea and Avocado Dip - Forks Over Knives

This recipe is genius! It's everything 'guacamole' plus the beloved chickpea all rolled, or in this case, smashed, in to one. Seriously, if you need to impress, and you're totally OVER hummus and guacamole, (well, who can entirely ever be over those?) - try this recipe. You won't regret!

You can find the recipe HERE on the Forks Over Knives website. Don't change a thing! 

Red Lentil Chili - Forks Over Knives

Once again, Forks Over Knives created an excellent menu for a Super Bowl party. Our tiny party only consisted of two people (sad), but our food was over the top (happy).

I love this beginning step of making soup - it's hard to believe that it'll finally come together into something warm and comforting. One kinda strange ingredient to this recipe is a puree of dates and water. I DID like the added sweetness. I DID NOT like the quantity. I think the amount of dates should be cut in half. 

Red Lentil Chili from Forks Over Knives. Recipe HERE

Burritos Two Ways

Wrap it in a flour tortilla, and I'm a happy woman. Smother it in almond cheese and salsa - well, let's just say, it's a party. Even on a Monday night.

Here's the scoop:
Make rice and be sure to add a teaspoon of turmeric for that classic Mexican rice 'look.'  Add 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed.  Add 1 sweet onion, chopped.

 Add 1 small can of El Pato brand tomato sauce (this stuff packs a punch!)

Mix well and distribute evenly on large flour tortillas. I smeared some non-dairy cream cheese on the tortillas as well.  Roll up and place, seam side down, on a sprayed pan.

 Smear some almond cheese over the burritos.Smother some of the burritos with red salsa; keep some burritos plain for now.

Bake until heated through. Smother the remaining burritos with Salsa Suiza (recipe here)

Salsa Suiza

Perfection! Look at that color! 

This sauce is unbelievably good. I imagine you can make it with store bought green salsa; I made mine from tomatillos that I grew in my own garden.

Lucy loves the garden. 

The entire recipe was a trial by error event, and I didn't even write anything down- sorry!  Just keep cooking and tasting and straining and melting.

Recipes for green salsa abound. Take your pick.
 Basically, it's tomatillos, jalapenos, onions, and cilantro. Boil. Blend.

My green salsa recipe can be found HERE.  

First I made green salsa and canned it. Served it a few times with chips and whatnot, only to admit to myself that it wasn't near hot enough for our taste.

I opened every jar, reheated it with plenty more jalapenos and cilantro and I was still unpleased with the result. I think it was the texture that bothered me.

It was at that point that I remembered my favorite Mexican sauce - Salsa Suiza. A quick lesson on the internet showed me that it's called 'Suiza' because it's loaded with cream and is therefore supposed to be 'Swiss' somehow. I improvised with non-dairy cream cheese and the result was PERFECTION.

How much cream cheese? I really don't remember....maybe 8 ounces for a large Dutch oven?
 Give or take. 

Straining the entire batch resulted in this beautifully smooth and silky sauce.  

If you're gonna grow tomatillos in the garden, be sure to try this excellent recipe! My freezer is full of it and that's a good thing! 

Curried Tomato Soup

It rained the other day and I felt the promise of spring on a cold wet day. The grey piles of snow melted for a day or two, revealing the green of lawn and garden. Yes, it was the promise of spring in the middle of February.

I'm already planning my vegetable garden. What will I do with all those tomatoes? Should I tear out the hydrangeas to make room for more? Maybe that's too drastic?

Speaking of tomatoes, here is an absolutely gourmet soup I made last fall. I still have a few servings tucked away in my freezer.  I think it is nice enough to serve to company and would be bang-up with a grown-up grilled cheese sandwich.

Here's what you need:
3 C chopped onion
2 T coconut oil
6 cloves fresh garlic
1/4 C minced fresh ginger
3 T curry
3 T garam masala
4 C vegetable stock
8 C fresh, ripe tomatoes (or canned, if you are in a deep freeze like I am here in Michigan in February)
1 C full fat coconut milk

Here's what you do:

Saute the veg in the coconut oil until soft. Add the spices and stir. Add the stock and tomatoes. Cook until well blended and the tomatoes are totally soft. Add the coconut milk. Allow to sit for a while with a lid on and the heat off to meld all the flavors. Blend until completely smooth.  For a beautifully silky soup, strain before serving. 

Mother Earth

Looking for a killer dip to take to your Super Bowl party? Try something different and be ready to bask in the glow of compliments. Why bring another bowl of hummus or guacamole when you can really reach deep into your hippie roots and bring something named Mother Earth.

I created this dip after tasting something similar at Marie Catrib's restaurant in Grand Rapids. The place is food heaven - tons of vegan stuff, and I'm not just talking about a bean burrito. They have a curried cauliflower mac and cheese that's to die for. Their lasagna puts everyone else's to shame. And then they have their Mother Earth. It's amazing. But so is mine.

It's all about technique here, so be careful with that food processor.

Here's what you need:
2 large cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
1 15 oz can dark kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 15 oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
4 T mayonnaise
2 T red wine vinegar
2 T lemon juice
1/4 C red onion, diced - not minced
1/4 C red pepper, chopped - not too small, not too large
1/4 C green pepper, chopped - not too small, not too large

Here's what you do:
Place the kidney beans and garlic in the bowl of a food processor. Blend until the beans are mushy, but definitely NOT creamy. They should still have some skin showing and they should still be chunky. Remove to a large bowl.

Place the garbanzos in the same food processor bowl and do the same. Keep them flaky and chunky, but also a bit creamy. Add them to the kidney bean mixture. Add the mayo, vinegar, lemon juice, and chopped veg. Mix well with a fork or wooden spoon. Mash up any beans that seem too large. Serve with hearty tortilla chips.

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