Sunday, November 30, 2014

Grilled Portobello Sandwich

I copied this meal after one we ate recently at a one of our favorite restaurants in Douglass, Michigan called Everyday People. The pickled cukes and onions put this simple sandwich over the top …. and a garlicky grilled bun – well, don’t get me started. We love this place. It’s nestled in such a quaint and cozy corner of our gorgeous state. If you are ever driving through west Michigan, I high recommend it. And if you’ve never been to nearby Saugatuck, Michigan, you must put it on your bucket list. Both tiny cities – Douglass and Saugatuck – are quintessential Michigan. Art, food, bars, water, boats, shopping and the most darling neighborhoods you can imagine!

Not only does Everyday People serve this fab Portobello Sandwich, they offer a do-it-yourself Bloody Mary bar, where you can spice it up as much as you want. PLUS they have never ending champagne if you’re interested in that type of headache! J Great way to spend a Sunday afternoon!

Here’s what you need:
Portobello mushroom caps
Red onion
Red wine vinegar
Good sandwich rolls, ciabatta for example

Here’s what you do:
Peel and slice the cuke and onions paper thin. Sprinkle red wine vinegar over the veg and allow to marinate for a few hours. You’ll be surprised at how quickly this becomes pickled.

Just before meal time, prepare the mushrooms by removing the tough stem. I used to remove the gills, but it doesn’t make a big difference  if you leave them. Grill the mushrooms over medium heat on a skillet or grill pan which has been lightly oiled. You want them tender and juicy. I salted mine about half way through to remove some liquid. Don’t let them dry out. The entire grilling process might take 10-12 minutes depending on the pan you use and the amount of heat you use.

In the meantime, make the absolute best garlic toast for your buns – butter, garlic salt, pepper, parmesan, basil, parsley, etc….whatever you use for your best garlic toast. Warm the buns gently in the oven and give them a toast at the end under the broiler.

Assemble the sandwich, being generous with the veg. Hubby put goat cheese on his  sandwich,  but it was excellent without it.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Vegan Manicotti

Oh man. This was good. We ate this like there was no tomorrow. I was lucky to have what you see in the photo for a leftover lunch the next day. It warmed up perfectly in the microwave, but straight out of the oven? Killer!

This meal was requested by my son, and I wanted to avoid all the cheese and calories and cholesterol, so I created this vegan version and he loved it. LOVED it.

Here’s what you need:
1 recipe of Cashew Ricotta (from Veganomicon by Isa Chandra)
                ½ C raw cashews
                ¼ C fresh lemon juice
                2 T olive oil
                2 cloves garlic
                1 pound firm tofu, drained and crumbled
                1 ½ t dried basil
                1 t salt
In a food processor or high speed blender, mix the cashews, juice, oil, and garlic until smooth. Add the tofu and continue blending until thick and creamy. Add basil and salt to taste.

2 large cups of fresh spinach
2 cloves garlic, minced
Manicotti pasta (I used 11 total tubes in this recipe)
1 jar marinara sauce
Dehydrated tomatoes  (mine came from my garden. I reconstituted them in about 1 C boiling water. I then snipped them with kitchen scissors into bite-size pieces.)
Vegan Parmesan

Here’s what you do:
Make the cashew ricotta and set aside.  Warm some olive oil in a saute pan and add the garlic, being sure not to brown it at all. Place the spinach in the warm oil, turn off heat, stir until it’s all coated with oil. It should cook down to a small amount.

Stir the spinach and ricotta together and spoon into a large plastic bag. Set aside.

Cook the manicotti for about 4-5 minutes in boiling water. Do not overcook them. Snip a tiny corner off the plastic bag and fill each manicotti tube with the spinach/ricotta mixture. Carefully place in a 9x13 or other size pan. (I had to use two pans to accommodate the entire recipe). Keep going until the kitchen is a total mess and all the filling is used up. Cover with some prepared marinara sauce. Scatter some reconstituted tomatoes over the top for a fantastic punch of flavor. I sprinkled the cashew Parmesan on the manicotti before I baked them….next time I might wait till it comes out of the oven.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Orange Sesame Tofu – Eat, Drink and Be Vegan

I am extremely proud of myself for learning how to cook and eat an entirely new food group: tofu. I say food ‘group’ because there are lots of different styles and types of tofu. While I am not yet an expert in the tofu arena, at least I’m not terrified of it any more.  Yes, I was terrified of the harmless stuff just a few short months ago! Terrified, I tell you!

At first I had no idea what the scary stuff was let alone how to use it. I admit that I did not even know it was made from a simple soy bean. For you newbies, let me say that it’s not nearly as difficult as it seems to add this healthful food to your weekly menu.

 Zero dietary cholesterol and tons of protein. Plus it’s inexpensive! Find a simple recipe, like the one below and give it a try.  Hey, if Benjamin Franklin ate it back in the day and billions of people eat it nowadays, then it’s good enough for me.

I served this delicious tofu with Coconut Lime Rice (also from Eat, Drink and Be Vegan) and roasted broccoli with a garlic-chili paste dressing. A squeeze of fresh lime really brightened up everything. Excellent! 

Orange Sesame Tofu  (adapted from Eat, Drink and Be Vegan by Dreena Burton)
Here’s what you need:
2 t cornstarch
½ C freshly squeezed orange juice
1 t orange zest
3 T soy sauce
2 T maple syrup
2 T apple cider vinegar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 T toasted sesame oil
1 pkg  (12 oz) extra-firm tofu, sliced and patted dry
Green onions and sesame seeds for garnish

Here’s what you do:
Zest the orange first. Squeeze the juice out of the orange. To this juice add the cornstarch and whisk until fully incorporated.  Add the zest, juice, soy sauce, maple syrup, vinegar, garlic and sesame oil to a 9X12 baking dish. Stir until well blended. Add the tofu slices and spoon each piece with the marinade. Allow to marinate for at least an hour or as much as 24 hours. Cover with foil and bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes. Carefully turn tofu over and spoon sauce over the pieces. Bake for another 10 minutes, uncovered. The sauce should be thicker and will continue to thicken as the dish cools. Garnish with green onions and sesame seeds.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Two Soups for Teacher

Soba Noodle Soup

Two amazing soups from “The Vegan Table” by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. Both eaten at my desk at school. Same week. Same pile of papers.  Notice the panda bear coffee cup.

Potato Leek Soup

If you don’t have this cookbook, then I recommend you rush to the library or book store and pick up a copy. Every recipe I have tried has been perfect. I especially love the Pineapple Upside-Down Cake which I’ve made at least 3 times in the past year. Included in the cookbook is Colleen’s famous Garlic and Greens Soup, which I hear is heavenly!

Just photos today – you’ll have to purchase the book to get the details!

Curried Tofu - Warm and spicy on a cold November night.

This would be a perfect complement to any Asian or Indian meal. It would also be good on a green salad, maybe with chick peas and fresh sliced tomatoes. I served it with a big pile of rice, cauliflower and peas that I smothered in a bottle of Trader Joe’s Thai Red Curry Sauce.

The recipe calls for a full quarter cup of curry…. I was leery of the amount, but if you like curry, then I encourage you to go for it and use the entire quarter cup. It also uses a lot of cumin seeds which were nice and crunchy. This recipe is modified from "Veganonicon" by the incredible vegan goddess, Isa Chandra Moskowitz. 

Here’s what you need:
3 T rice wine vinegar
2 T olive oil
2 T soy sauce
¼ C curry powder
1 t cumin seeds
1 pound firm or extra firm tofu – sliced and pressed dry

Here’s what you do:

Mix marinade ingredients and smear over tofu. Marinate for at least an hour. Grill or fry in a tiny bit of oil.