Monday, June 29, 2009

Veggie Stacks

A great way to use up veggies that are taking over your garden (I'm jealous!) or your farmer's market finds.

The tart gremolata provides a nice contrast to the sweetness of the produce that is brought out in the grilling process.

Switch up the veggies as desired to use up what you have on hand!

Serves 2 (2 stacks each)

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/8 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. grated lemon zest

Grill rub (see below)
1/2 of a medium-sized eggplant, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick slices
2 portobello caps, stems removed
1 yellow squash, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick slices
1 zucchini, cut
lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick slices
1 tomato, cut into thick slices
Shaved Parmesan (optional). Obviously, it won't be vegan if you add this.

Grill Rub (this will make about 3/4 cup of rub. It will keep in the fridge if stored in an airtight container).
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/8 cup paprika
3 tbsp. freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp. sea salt or kosher salt
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

1. Prepare the gremolata. Pulse the parsley, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, and zest in a food processor. Chill while preparing the veggies.

2. Heat grill to high heat (see tip below). Coat grate with vegetable oil.

3. Sprinkle the veggies with the grill rub (I only used the rub on one side of each piece). Place the eggplant and the portobello cap on the grill first and cook 2 minutes. Add the zucchini and squash and cook 2 minutes more. Turn veggies 45 degrees and cook 2 minutes more. Flip and cook another 2 minutes and then turn them 45 degrees and cook an additional 2 minutes. (If you're not bothered about fancy grill marks, cook 'em for 4 minutes on one side and 4 on the other).
Add the tomato during the last few minutes so it doesn't just complete disintegrate. :)

4. Layer them however you like. Here's how I stacked mine:
1 piece of eggplant on the bottom
Half of the portobello cap
Zucchini slices
Squash slices
Eggplant on top
Drizzle the gremolata over the top of each stack and then add a couple pieces of shaved Parmesan if desired.

Here's a handy guide for figuring out how hot the grill is!
Hold your hand 4 inches above the grill grate and count until your palm feels hot.
*2-3 seconds = high heat
*4-5 seconds = medium-high
*6-8 seconds = medium
*9-10 seconds = medium-low

This is based on Summer Vegetable Stacks with Gremolata and Classic BBQ Rub from the July/August 2009 issue of Vegetarian Times magazine. I also found that grill temperature guide in this issue.

My changes:
Grill rub - I didn't have celery seed so I subbed coriander (same amount).
Veggie stacks - I used a portobello mushroom in place of tofu (original called for 1 16-oz. package of extra-firm tofu per 4 servings). I also added zucchini and tomato. The original recipe didn't use the grill rub, I just thought that would be good on the veggies.

The June Gloom Cure-All

Here in San Diego we often have overcast skies (caused by the marine layer) during the late spring/early summer. In May, we call it "May Gray." In June, it becomes "June Gloom." Yes, living in paradise is awful! How do we manage to live through this for 2 whole months? ;)
These muffins just might be the magic elixir that takes away all the dreary yuckiness that comes with living by the coast!
No matter the weather, these sunny muffins are sure to brighten anyone's day.

Note: I used cow's milk and dairy yogurt to make these but they are extremely easy to convert back to a vegan baking recipe since they are already egg-free. Just sub non-dairy yogurt and milk.

Makes 12 muffins

1/2 cup plain or vanilla yogurt (they are vegan if you use non-dairy yogurt)
1/2 cup fat-free milk (again, vegan if you choose a plain or vanilla non-dairy milk)
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract (omit if you use vanilla yogurt)
1 tbsp. ground flaxseed (a coffee bean grinder is a great tool for grinding these)
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup crushed pineapple, squeeze out and reserve all the juice (do not use fresh pineapple, it will interfere with the leavening process)
1/3 cup pineapple juice
1/2 cup finely shredded carrot
1 generous tsp. grated orange zest (from 1 large orange)
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. aluminium-free baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin or line with unbleached paper liners.

1. Whisk the yogurt, milk, vanilla if using, and ground flaxseed together in a large bowl.

2. Squeeze the pineapple really well to ensure that you've removed all the juice. Add the pineapple pieces to the bowl along with the reserved juice, carrot, orange zest, raisins, cranberries, and coconut. Whisk thoroughly.

3. Sift in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, and salt. Whisk just enough to moisten all the dry ingredients but do not over-mix.

4. Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tin and then bake for 24-26 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the muffins comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in the tin before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Carrot-Pineapple Sunshine Muffins from Veganomicon.

My changes:
I subbed 1/4 cup raisins and 1/4 cup cranberries for the 1/2 cup raisins called for in the original recipe.
I added 1/4 cup shredded coconut.
I added 1 tsp. vanilla extract since I used plain yogurt.
Changes to try in the future: Use half whole-wheat flour, half all-purpose. Add in some cardamom/sub it for the cinnamon. Sub fresh grated ginger for ground ginger. Actually make them vegan with almond milk and non-dairy yogurt. Try them with golden raisins/try mixing it up with other dried fruits.

These do not rise much (in fact, they're pretty flat!)
Feel free to fill those muffin cups full of batter (the batter, by the way, tastes great!)

Wild Rice Salad

I had this with that fabulous carrot-ginger soup! Yum! :)

Serves 6

8 cups water
12 ounces wild rice (or a wild rice blend)
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/3 cup pecans, chopped
6 green onions, sliced
1 cup diced tomatoes
1 cup raspberry vinaigrette dressing

Raspberry Vinaigrette Dressing (Makes about 3 cups)
1 pint (2 cups) raspberries (you can use frozen, just defrost before using)
2 green onions, sliced
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup white wine vinegar

1. To prepare the dressing, Puree the raspberries, green onions, and mustard in a food processor or blender until smooth. While the machine is running, pour in the olive oil and puree for about 30 seconds. Add the vinegar and combine well. Store in the refrigerator.

2. Cook the rice according to package directions or until tender (I bought mine bulk/had no directions! Since it was a blend, it only took about 30 minutes. Wild rice will usually take 50-60 minutes to cook). Drain any excess water and set aside to cool.

3. Transfer the cooled rice to a mixing bowl. Add the cranberries, pecans, parsley, green onions, tomatoes, and dressing. Toss to combine.

Wild Rice with Pecans and Cranberries from The Whole Foods Market Cookbook.

Carrot-Ginger Soup

I really wasn't sure what to expect from this and actually thought I might not like it. I was proven wrong and now I can't wait to make it again! I'd like to try it chilled next time.

The mild carrots are really set off by the spicy ginger!

An immersion blender is a great tool for pureeing just a small amount of this soup if you divide the recipe.

Serves 6

1 tbsp. canola oil
4 medium onions, sliced
1 3-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
6 cups vegetable broth
8 large carrots, peeled and roughly cut into evenly sized pieces
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, if desired

1. Heat the canola oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Saute the onions until translucent. Add the chopped ginger and saute an additional 2 minutes.

2. Increase the heat to medium an add the broth and carrots. Simmer until the carrots are tender. Season to taste. Puree.

From The Whole Foods Market Cookbook.

I didn't make any changes to this but there is a note at the bottom of the recipe saying "Reduce the vegetable broth by half and replace the remaining half with orange juice, apple juice, ginger ale, or sparkling cider." Definitely something to think about for next time!
I might also add some crushed pineapple to a chilled version.

Best Egg Salad I've Ever Tasted!

Seriously, it really is the best-tasting egg salad I've had. If you'd like, you can make it the way the Moosewood book suggested and leave out most of the yolk. That way it has much less fat and cholesterol than a regular egg salad.

Makes 2 sandwiches
This is also great on crackers or on top of a bed of lettuce. I'd love to try it stuffed into an avocado or tomato.

2 eggs, hard-boiled, cooled, and then diced
1/2 stalk of celery, diced
1/8 of a red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 tbsp. sweet or dill pickle, minced
1 tsp. capers, drained
1/8 cup red onion, chopped
1/2 tbsp. fresh dill, minced (or 1/2 tsp. dried)
1/2 tbsp. fat-free plain yogurt
1/2 tsp. prepared horseradish
1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
Freshly ground black pepper to taste, if desired
Bread or rolls
Lettuce, tomato, sliced green onion, additional Dijon mustard as sandwich garnishes

1. Stir together chopped eggs, celery, capers, bell pepper, pickle, onion, dill, yogurt, horseradish, and mustard.

2. Serve as a sandwich on bread/rolls or as a salad.

Based on the Egg Salad recipe from the Moosewood Low-Fat Favorites cookbook.

My changes:
I used yogurt in place of mayonnaise. I thought about making my own mayo but just couldn't be bothered... heh :) Least I'm honest!
I added the capers. I also used sweet pickle in place of dill pickle.

Waldorf Salad with Bulgar

The flavours in this salad will excite each and every one of your taste buds! There is really a lot going on from the sweet apples and nutty bulgar to the tart lemon juice and peppery parsley.

I served this along side an egg salad sandwich. Made for a great lunch!

Serves 2-3

1 cup bulgar
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1 medium-sized apple, cored and diced (leave the skin on)
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup strawberries, sliced
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup apple juice
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

1. Prepare the bulgar first. Place the grains plus 1 cup of boiling water into a heat-proof bowl. Cover and let the bulgar sit for 20-30 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed. Set aside to cool.

2. Once cooled, transfer the bulgar to a mixing bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Toss everything well and serve.

Based on Wheat Berry Waldorf Salad from The Whole Foods Market Cookbook.

My changes:
I used bulgar (cracked wheat) in place of wheat berries.
I added the strawberries and used a mixture of cranberries and raisins in place of just raisins.
I subbed white wine vinegar for apple cider vinegar and used sparkling cider in place of apple juice (slightly out of desperation ;)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Samosa Stuffed Jacket Potatoes

Proof that potatoes do not need to be slathered in loads of butter, cheese, and sour cream to taste good! (Not that I don't enjoy the occasional butter-, cheese-, and sour cream-slathered potato but I usually prefer less artery-clogging food).

These were lovely! I made them as twice-baked potatoes but the original recipe called for making them as potato skin-style appetizers (yes, now I'm thinking I need to plan a Bollywood movie night so I can make these yummy things as part of the menu!)

As I made them, they make a great meal on their own or with a salad (I should have planned better and bought stuff to make a chutney for them...) or make them as potato skins and have them as a starter for a curry dish.

Excuse the crappy photo... hubby left for Texas this morning and took my camera leaving me to take this with my phone. The finished potato was really pretty; this does not do it justice.

I bet you could make these the night before, wrap them up and keep them refrigerated, and then just heat up for lunch the next day.

Makes 2 twice-baked potatoes or 4 potato skin appetizers

2 Russet potatoes, scrubbed, baked, and cooled
1/8 cup non-dairy milk, veggie broth, or water (I used broth)
A little non-dairy, non-hydrogenated margarine (1/2-1 tsp.)
1 1/2 tbsp. canola oil
1/2 cup carrots, cut into small dice or shredded
1/2 cup onion, cut into small dice
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. fresh ginger, grated
1/2 tsp. ground mustard
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. curry powder
1/4 tsp. turmeric
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/4 cup frozen peas (leave them frozen)
Juice of 1/4 lemon
Extra canola oil for brushing the skins
Cilantro and/or green onions as a garnish (completely forgot I was going to add those until now)

1. If you are making twice-baked potatoes, slice off the top of the potato leaving three sides intact. Scoop out the potato flesh and place it in a bowl. Be careful not to break the skins. Set the skins aside.
If you are making potato skins, slice the potatoes in half and then scoop out the filling. Again, be careful not the break the skins. Set the skins aside.

2. Mash the potato filling with the milk, water, or veggie broth and margarine until it's the consistency of mashed potatoes.

3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and carrots and saute until the onions are lightly browned and both veggies are soft (7-10 minutes).

4. Add the garlic and ginger and saute for another minute. Add the mustard, coriander, cumin, curry powder, turmeric, and salt along with a little splash of water. You can add more water if it looks too dry. Stir well.

5. Add the onion-carrot mixture to the mashed potato filling and mix well. At this point, I poured a little water into the skillet to pick up more of the spice mixture. I added the frozen peas to the skillet/water and gave them a quick stir. Drain the peas and then add them to the potato mixture. Add the lemon juice and stir to incorporate all the ingredients.

6. Brush the outside of the skins with a little extra canola oil and then scoop the potato mixture into each skin. Press gently so you have the entire potato shell filled.

7. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro and sliced green onions if desired.

If you're going to eat the skins, try to find organic potatoes. Potatoes are on the "dirty dozen" list of items with high concentrations of pesticides.

Based on Samosa Stuffed Potatoes from Veganomicon.
I made several changes:
*As mentioned above, I made mine as twice-baked potatoes.
*I added the margarine and curry powder.
*The original called for peanut oil. I just used canola.
*Original recipe called for yellow mustard seeds and coriander seeds and to add these to the skillet prior to adding the onion and carrot. I just used ground mustard and ground coriander and added them with the other spices.
*The original said to add the potato filling into the skillet and heat it through. I skipped this and just added the stuff from the skillet into the potato filling in a bowl. I also decided to throw a little water into the empty skillet and swish the peas around in that to try to get a little more of the spices.

Chocolate-Raspberry Cookies

So chewy! So chocolatey! So free of rubbish you shouldn't be eating! All this and vegan, too!

These are really fantastic cookies. I can't wait to make them again with different flavours of spreadable fruit (cherry, apricot, orange marmalade with Grand Marnier or Cointreau... whatever!)
I may even add some chocolate chips or chopped nuts next time but, really, they wouldn't need them.

I didn't take a photo since my camera just landed in Texas but these cookies look remarkably like these ones: Double-Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

Makes about 2 dozen cookies

1/2 cup raspberry preserves
1 cup unrefined sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 tsp. pure almond extract (or amaretto)
1/4-1/2 tsp. Chambord (optional)
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the raspberry preserves, sugar, canola oil, vanilla, almond extract or amaretto, and Chambord.

2. In a separate mixing bowl, sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt together. Add the dry ingredients to the wet in three batches, mixing well with each addition. You may need to use your hands to kneed the dough with the last addition.

3. Roll the dough into walnut-sized balls and then flatten them with your hands into discs. Place them on a prepared cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes. They don't spread so don't worry about placing them far apart on the sheet.

4. Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool for 5 minutes on the sheet and then transfer them to a cooling rack to cool them completely.

Chewy Chocolate-Raspberry Cookies from Veganomicon.
The only change I really made was to add Chambord and a little amaretto when I ran out of almond extract (!) :)
I can't wait to try different flavours of these cookies!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Banana and Black Bean Empanadas

Bored with banana bread? Want a new way to use up those ripe bananas? Then you have to try these!

I actually made these a while ago and never got around to blogging them. They were just so fantastic, I can't leave them out! :)
I had this version of the Argentinean pastry as a meal with rice and a big salad but they would make great appetizers.

Note: The crust needs to be refrigerated for at least one hour (up to overnight) so plan ahead for that.

Makes 12 empanadas (6 servings)

1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. chili powder
4 tbsp. non-dairy, non-hydrogenated margarine cut into small cubes (Earth Balance)
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce (Make your own if you have time!)
1 tbsp. white wine vinegar

1 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup onion, chopped
1 cup cooked black beans
1 clove garlic, smushed or finely diced
1 cup peeled, diced bananas (the riper, the better!)
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. ground coriander
2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp. hot sauce

1. As mentioned above, you'll need to make the crust in advance. Here's how:
*Sift flowers, salt, and chili powder together in a bowl. Use your fingers to mix in the margarine like you would if you were making a pie crust.
*Whisk the applesauce, vinegar, and 1/3 cup cold water in a separate bowl.
*Add the applesauce mixture to the flour until a dough forms. You can add up to 1/4 cup more cold water if needed.
*Knead the dough on a floured surface. Form a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, chill.

2. While the dough chills, work on the filling. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the onion in the oil for 4-5 minutes (until soft). Add the black beans and garlic and reduce the heat to medium. Cook the bean mixture for 3 minutes.

3. Add the bananas, cumin, cayenne, and coriander to the bean mixture and cook for 2 minutes or until the bananas just begin to break down (this smells amazing!) Remove from the heat and stir in the cilantro and hot sauce.

4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, prepare a cookie sheet by spraying it with cooking spray, and lightly flour your work surface. Divide the dough into 12 balls and roll out each ball into a 6-inch round (about 1/4-inch thick).

5. Fill each dough round with a couple tablespoons of the filling and brush the edges with water. Fold the dough in half to make a semi-circle and press to close the edges. Use a fork to crimp the edges/seal the empanadas.

6. Place the assembled pastries on the cookie sheet and chill for 10 minutes. Once chilled, bake them for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly before serving.

From the March 2009 issue of Vegetarian Times magazine.
I honestly didn't change anything from the original recipe... (except the cooking temp. - original called for 400).
I may try adding some chopped avocado next time or maybe even adding a little cocoa powder to do some sort of mole-esque thing. Watch this space! I love to experiment! ;)

Been a while...

My schedule went a bit nuts (and to be quite honest, I got a bit burned out on the blogging) so I quit for a while. Now that I'm on summer break (and have a bit more time on my hands), I can blog again. :)

I'm pretty excited about this week's menu so hopefully I'll have plenty to write about in the next week or so.

June 26-July 2
Friday: Samosa-Stuffed Potato (lunch). Summer veggie stacks with salad and quinoa for dinner.

Saturday: I have a CPR/first aid class all day so I have no idea what I'll be eating...

Sunday: Spicy chickpea patties and salad for lunch. Carrot-ginger soup with a wild rice, walnut, and cranberry salad for dinner.

Monday: Tropical gazpacho for lunch. Quinoa, black bean, and citrus salad for dinner.

Tuesday: Egg salad sandwich with a Waldorf salad (supposed to be with wheat berries but I'll sub in barley or something). Vegetarian (actually may be vegan) French onion and a salad for dinner (maybe leftover Waldorf!)

Wednesday: Farm stand veggie skewers with homemade buttermilk biscuits and veggie couscous.

Thursday: Tomato-bulgar soup and (I'm going to give polenta one more shot!) savoury tomato-pesto polenta.

I'm also planning on making chocolate-raspberry cookies and carrot-pineapple muffins.

As usual, the order may change around a bit... :)