Tuesday, May 30, 2006

CORN QUESADILLAS

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On the right, quesadillas filled with leftover Seitan "Steak" au Poivre, my Vegan "Gruyere", and baby spinach

On the left, Vegan "Gruyere" and Mango Quesadillas

On Monday I had a thing about quesadillas. I had breakfast late and I took a couple of corn tortillas out of the freezer. I know, flour tortillas are supposed to be the thing for quesadillas, but I really love corn tortillas. I topped one with slices of my homemade Vegan "Gruyere" (but you could use any vegan "cheese") and fresh mango slices, topped it with another corn tortilla, and then pan-grilled it on both sides in a nonstick pan. I ate it with some storebought corn and tomato salsa...very satisfying.

By the time I was hungry for lunch, I still craved tortillas, so I took a couple more out of the freezer, but this time I sliced one of my leftover Seitan "Steak" au Poivre in half horizontally and paired it with more of the Vegan "Gruyere" and some baby spinach leaves.

I grilled it the same way. Because the "steak" was so peppery, I didn't need salsa with it.

There you have it...nothing dramatic; quick, easy, tasty, healthful. What do you like in quesadillas? Do you prefer corn or flour tortillas?

Sunday, May 28, 2006

LOWFAT POPPYSEED DRESSING (NEW: SOY-FREE OPTION)

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 Spinach Salad with No-Oil Poppyseed Dressing, featuring radish "ruffles" made in my new Joyce Chen Saladacco Spiral Slicer, a birthday present. (See notes and alternatives below.)

Tonight we had a spinach salad with my husband's favorite dressing, Poppy Seed. I'm going to share this easy, low-fat recipe with you-- it's very similar to the Poppy Seed Dressing that you can buy in bottles, or be served in restaurants, but those versions consist first and foremost of oil and either sugar in excess, or non-vegan honey.

This version is quick and easy and very low in fat; sweet, but not cloying. It’s great on fruit salads, spinach salads, etc... We had it alongside Pommes Frites (French for French fries, but in this case they were oven-fries and also low-fat) and a new dish I tried for the next issue of the Vegan Feast newsletter [update: newsletter is now defunct], Vegan "Steak" au Poivre, made with homemade seitan "beefsteaks".

Steak au Poivre is a classic French dish, usually very heavy on the butter, which was not the case here. The black pepper "crust" is addictive! It is scrumptious, and fast and easy to make, once the juicy seitan "steaks" are made (they freeze well). (UPDATE: The recipe for the "steaks" and the au Poivre is in my new book, World Vegan Feast.)



PS: ABOUT SPIRAL SLICERS: The Joyce Chen Saladacco Spiral Vegetable Slicer mentioned above gets mixed reviews online. It got consistently poor reviews on amazon, but pretty positive ones on cooking.com. I didn't buy mine, it was a gift, and I'm kind of glad I didn't pay the Cnd $30 for it. I like it, but it isn't very heavy-duty. I will just use it for decorative slicing, I think. But, here is a whole page (6 pages printed!) about using the Saladacco properly-- seems a bit much for something that is supposed to be simple. This is a Japanese one, the "Super Spiral Slicer", that is supposed to be a little better, and this one is very similar, but quite a bit cheaper (there are many similar models on the market).

Options?  This is a more expensive one, but it's bound be better than the Saladacco, because a.) it weighs quite a bit more, b.) because of the way you clamp the vegetables on it looks more stable, and c.) that you can just keep spiralling into a bowl and you don't have to empty the device out every few minutes. Oh, and it does thin strands, too.

Printable Copy

BRYANNA’S NO-OIL VEGAN POPPY SEED DRESSING (UPDATED WITH SOY-FREE OPTION)
Makes about 2 cups











In a blender, mix until smooth:


8 ounces medium-firm tofu OR (2/3 of a box) firm or extra-firm SILKEN tofu, crumbled
(For soy-free, omit tofu and instead use 1 cup rinsed and drained cooked or canned white kidney beans or Great Northern beans)
6 tablespoons maple syrup (you may substitute agave nectar for the maple syrup,  but you may need a bit less)
OR half of a 6 ounce can frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed
6 tablespoons non-dairy milk
3 tablespoons cider vinegar (or other preferred vinegar-- but *not* red wine or balsamic vinegar; use white wine vinegar, and berry or fruit vinegars are good!)
1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped onion
1 1/2 tablespoons wholegrain Dijon mustard
1 scant teaspoon salt

Store in a jar in the refrigerator. This recipe is easily multiplied.

VARIATIONS:
1.) Use the white part of 2 or 3 green onions, or a shallot, instead of the onion.

2.) Use lemon juice instead of vinegar (you could also add a teaspoon of organic lemon zest, if you wish).

4.) Use 3 tablespoons maple syrup and 3 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate for the sweetener, and add a teaspoon of organic orange zest, if you wish.

Nutrition Facts (using reduced-fat silken tofu, reduced-fat soymilk, apple juice concentrate, and only 1 tablespoon of poppyseed)
Nutrition (per 1/4 cup): 45.2 calories; 18% calories from fat; 1.0g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 268.3mg sodium; 110.7mg potassium; 7.1g carbohydrates; 0.3g fiber; 0.6g sugar; 2.5g protein.


Enjoy!

Friday, May 26, 2006

IMPROMPTU DINNER

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Last night we had an unexpected guest and I had to use up some items in my refrigerator, especially a whole bunch of broccoli that needed to be used. I was in the mood for down-home rather than exotic, and I had some homemade "cheddar" cheese that was a bit runnier than it should have been, a cup of tofu sour creme left over from tacos the night before, and some Soy Curls already reconstituted in the freezer. So what better than "Chicken" Divan casserole? Never heard of this? Probably because you're too young! It's out of fashion now. Here's a description from http://whatscookingamerica.net/:

"Chicken Divan - A chicken casserole dish with broccoli and mornay or hollandaise sauce.

1950s - Chicken Divan was the signature dish of a 1950s New York restaurant, the Divan Parisienne. In English, the word "divan" came to mean sofa, from the council chamber's benches. In France it meant a meeting place or great hall. It was this meaning that attracted the notice of the owners of the New York restaurant as they searched for a name that would imply continental elegance."


Now it seems very plain and homey to us, but that's kind of what I wanted. Current recipes call for cream of mushroom, broccoli or cheddar soup from a can for the sauce, but I used my vegan bechamel sauce mixed with the Tofu Sour creme instead (and here is a Bean-Based Vegan Bechamel Sauce). Most recipes also call for frozen broccoli, but I used fresh steamed. I also added lots of garlic to the Soy Curl "chicken" strips.

Three of us ate 1/2 the large casserole (of course, one of us --not me!-- was pregnant and very hungry!). It's a little on the bland side, but that's kind of  comforting sometimes. My husband liked it very much.


I also made a cookie sheet full of grilled asparagus and sliced portobella mushrooms with balsamic vinaigrette-- yum!

Printable Recipe

BRYANNA'S VEGAN "CHICKEN" DIVAN CASSEROLE
Serves 8

2 lbs. fresh broccoli crowns, cut into spears and steamed crisp-tender
2 cups grated vegan "cheddar"(or, if you use a soft homemade version you can just dab it on) OR any vegan cheese with some vegan parmesan substitute
3-4 cups strips of any vegan "chicken" or "turkey" substitute, such as Soy Curls reconstituted in a vegan "chickeny" broth
2 T. vegan butter
6 cloves garlic, chopped
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups or so of cooked rice (I use brown basmati)
2 cups vegan white sauce or Bechamel sauce (I made it without added fat-- just blended in the flour), or this bean-based version
1 cup Tofu Sour Creme (commercial or homemade)
1 T. lemon juice
2 cups bread crumbs (I used some herb-flavored ones I had in the freezer)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Saute the "chicken" sub in a large pan with the Earth balance and chopped garlic.

Spread the steamed broccoli in the bottom of 1/ 9 x 13" baking pan. Cover that with the "chicken" sub. Sprinkle with salt and grind pepper over that to taste. 


Spread 1 cup of the vegan "cheese" over the top (save the other half for the top of the finished casserole). Spread the cooked rice over that.

Mix the bechamel sauce with the sour creme and lemon juice, stirring well. Drizzle this evenly over the casserole and smooth it out. Sprinkle evenly with the breadcrumbs and then spread, sprinkle or dot with the remaining "cheese".

Bake for 20 minutes and serve hot.


(Nutrition Facts were calculated using Soy Curls; brown rice;  Daiya Vegan Cheese; my homemade Bechamel Sauce without the fat added; my homemade Tofu Sour Creme .)
 Nutrition Facts Nutrition (per serving): 302.1 calories; 37% calories from fat; 12.4g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 599.3mg sodium; 463.2mg potassium; 34.8g carbohydrates; 3.5g fiber; 2.4g sugar; 31.3g net carbs; 14.1g protein.


Have a great weekend!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

WEEKEND COOKING CLASS

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Farfalle Salad with Pecan Pesto and Rustic Kale and Butternut Squash Savory Tart ( recipe in my book World Vegan Feast) with a crispy, low-fat olive oil crust

I spent my weekend cooking. Three lovely, lively women from Vancouver, a mother and two daughters (one vegan), came to Denman Island and rented a beautiful house, where I taught two half-day classes in quick and easy vegan meals. Saturday afternoon we made Asian-Fusion dishes for dinner, and this morning we made Mediterranean-style dishes for lunch. Most of the recipes were from past issues of the Vegan Feast newsletter, with a few from my books and one brand-new dessert. It was really fun, but, boy, do my feet hurt! And I still have to unpack some of the stuff I brought over there-- had to take half my kitchen with me!

You never know what to expect, though. We had some trouble with the (pretty new) Jenn-Air stove, the burners of which would NOT get hot enough, so today I brought one of those little Chinese butane wok stoves and that really helped speed things up! They get really hot in a hurry.

Here's the menu from Saturday:

Thai-Style Coconut and Red Lentil Soup
Thai Cabbage Salad
Malay-Style Yuba (Beancurd Skin) and Daikon Curry


Creamy Thai Basil “Chicken” (with Soy Curls™)


Singapore Noodles


and Tahu Goreng (Indonesian Spicy Tofu) (both recipes in my book World Vegan Feast)


Brown jasmine and Thai red rice in rice cooker
Key Lime Bars (I have to wait for one of the ladies to send me a picture of these-- I didn't get one on my camera...darn!)

The menu from Sunday:


Rustic Greens and Butternut Squash Savory Tart (picture above, recipe in my book World Vegan Feast)
Farfalle and Veggie “Chicken” Salad with Pecan Pesto
Breast of Tofu with Sundried Tomatoes, Artichokes, and Kalamata Olives
Scaloppine alla Marsala (made with my quick Soy and Seitan Cutlets, that we also made in class)
Grilled Eggplant and Red Pepper Panini with Soy Cheese and Greens
Baby Greens and Portobello Mushroom Salad and Balsamic Vinaigrette


Sweet Cornbread with Orange Yogurt Sauce and Strawberries

Thursday, May 18, 2006

DO YOU USE YOUR SLOW-COOKER MUCH?

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I don't use mine nearly as often as I should. We often think of it as an appliance for winter meals-- stews, soups, beanpots, etc.. But it's great in the summer, too, because it doesn't give out much heat. I've baked pudding cakes in my slow-cooker, and they came out beautifully.


                Peanutty Hot Fudge Pudding Cake baking in my slow-cooker

I got a brand-new automatic Rival 5 qt. Crockpot (oval) last year. It's great except for the fact that it cooks at too high a temperature. Now they tell me that, oops, yes, this was a flaw, but it's been fixed on the newer ones! What I do is just cook foods that are supposed to be cooked on "High" on the "Low" setting, and foods that are supposed to be cooked on "Low" on the "Keep Warm" setting. Whatever works! I cook the food on High for a little while at first, and then turn it down. (Here's a newer version.)





Seitan Pot Roast before and after slow-cooking

I've used my crockpot for all the usual suspects, but also for cooking seitan pot roasts and cutlets, and my special vegan "neatballs", which I developed to soak up juices from the sauce they are cooked in, so that they "plump up", but don't fall apart. (These recipes were all in my now-defunct newsletter, The Vegan Feast.)






You can see from these pictures how the "neatballs" swell up in the sauce.

As for beans, it has been my experience, and many slow-cooker experts agree with me, that beans often don't cook properly in a slow cooker. The cooking time depends on the type of slow-cooker, the variety of bean, the age and quality of the bean, the altitude, and whether you use hard or soft water. Consequently, many people used canned beans in slow-cooker bean recipes (you could freeze your own cooked beans). That said, to cook in a slow-cooker, they need to be soaked in lots of water overnight and drained, and then brought to a boil with plenty of fresh water and simmered rapidly for 10-15 minutes (and drained again) before placing in the slow-cooker with your other ingredients. Then they need to be cooked for 8-12 hours on Low, or for 5-6 hours on High. I use about 6 cups of liquid for 1 1/2 lbs. beans (which have bean soaked), though many books say 6 cups for 1 lb. I found that that left too much liquid.

               "  Drunken Beans"  from the current issue of the Vegan Feast.

Also, I have not found it to be true that you should not add salty, sweet, or acidic foods to the beans before they are completely cooked. I do that all the time! It might take a little longer, but the only reason I have found for beans absolutely not cooking is that they are very old.



Now here's a recipe and some info from about a year and a half ago in The Vegan Feast newsletter:

SLOW-COOKER PUDDING CAKES:

Some of you may already be aware of this, but you can make yummy vegan pudding cakes in your slow-cooker or Crockpot® (you know, the kind of cake that ends up with a sauce at the bottom of the pan). It cooks in 2 to 2 and 1/2 hours, and doesn’t heat the kitchen up (not a problem now, but come summer…). I baked mine in an glass casserole 7 1/2” across the top, 2 1/2” deep, and 6 1/2” across the bottom, which I placed in my 5-6 qt. oval cooker, but I understand that you can actually bake it right in the ceramic insert of a 3 1/2-4 qt. cooker. Either way, you can use your favourite pudding cake recipe that calls for about 1 c. flour in the batter.

THE BASIC SLOW-COOKER BAKING METHOD: Proceed with your recipe as normal, in a pan as mentioned in the paragraph above, or in the insert (well-greased) of your 3 1/2 -4 qt. cooker. Cover the cooker and cook on high for 2 to 2  1/2 hours, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the cake. Let stand, uncovered, for 30-40 minutes.

Here is an example for you to try:

BRYANNA'S PEANUTTY HOT FUDGE PUDDING CAKE
(Adapted from a recipe in my first book, "The Almost No Fat Cookbook”) 1.) Preheat the oven to 350 F.

2.) In a small bowl, mix together:

1 c. white or whole wheat pastry flour (or a mixture)
1/4 c. brown sugar or organic unbleached sugar
1/4 c. oat flour or oat bran
1/4 c. unsweetened organic fair trade cocoa
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

3.) Stir in, but do not over-mix:

3/4 c. nondairy milk
2 tsp. vanilla OR 1/2 tsp. almond extract
OPT: 2 T. coffee or chocolate liqueur

4.) With wet fingers, spread the batter into a lightly greased or non-stick 8x8 inch pan.


5.) Mix together in a small bowl:

1 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. unsweetened organic fair trade cocoa

6.) Sprinkle the sugar/cocoa mixture evenly over the top of the cake batter.

7.) And then pour gently over the top, but don’t in any way stir in (yes—it goes into the oven with soupy stuff all over the top!):

2 c. boiling water MIXED TIL SMOOTH WITH:
1/2 c. chunky natural peanut butter

Bake this for 35 minutes. (You might want to put a pizza pan or cookie sheet on the rack below the cake, just under it, to catch drips, if any.) OR use the Basic Slow-Cooker baking Method above. When it comes out of the oven (or slow-cooker), the cake will be on top with a sauce underneath. Serve plain or with vanilla nondairy frozen dessert.

Now enjoy!

I'd love to hear about your vegan slow-cooker adventures!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

MOTHER'S DAY CREPES (UPDATED)

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Happy Mothers Day to all you moms, step-moms, grandmoms, foster moms, and moms-to-be!

I should make stuffed crepes more often. I always forget how easy they are to make, and you can make them ahead of time and refrigerate or freeze them. They can be filled with almost anything sweet or savory (today I'm concentrating on the savory). They are perfect for company brunches, lunches and dinners, or for dessert (I'll leave that for another time).

Below are my two vegan crepe recipes, followed by the recipe for the dish you see above (my Mom's favorite)-- crepes stuffed with roasted asparagus and sauteed mushrooms, coated in a creamy vegan Bechame/Beciamella sauce. And, there are more filling ideas below, too.

ITALIAN CREPES (CRESPELLE) AND WAYS TO SERVE THEM
By Bryanna Clark Grogan May 10, 2019
(Recipes and text from the book “Nonna’s Italian Kitchen”, by Bryanna Clark Grogan, Book Publishing Co., 1998; and the book “World Vegan Feast” by Bryanna Clark Grogan, Vegan Heritage Press, Woodstock, Virginia, 2011 and 2014; recipes updated May 10, 2019.)
*******************************************************************

My Basic Crepe/Crespelle Recipes:

Version #1
BRYANNA’S CRESPELLE VEGAN (ITALIAN-STYLE VEGAN CREPES) (CAN BE SOY-FREE) Makes 12
(From the book “Nonna’s Italian Kitchen”, by Bryanna Clark Grogan, Book Publishing Co., 1998; recipes updated May 10, 2019)

Crepes have been made in Italy for centuries, with many different types of flours. They are particularly popular in Northern Italy, notably in Tuscany. In Emilia Romagna and Piedmont, they are called cannelloni, or they are folded into triangles and called fazzoletti, after the folded black handkerchiefs that older farm women still wear on their heads.

In southern Italy they are often referred to as manicotti. Filled crepes that are cut into short lengths and baked are called bocconcini, which means "little mouthfuls". Crespelle "cakes", or timbali, are crepes stacked with filling in between and cut into wedges. Many delicious vegetables stuffings are popular (you can use a filling as simple as just steamed, chopped in-season vegetables held together with thick besciamella sauce, recipe below), particularly the spinach and ricotta filling from Florence (recipe  below).


Crespelle can be made ahead (even frozen), and they make an elegant dinner dish for company or special occasions, such as Easter dinner.
These vegan crespelle are nice and tender, thin but not fragile, roll well, and have a delicate flavor.

1 T. powdered egg replacer
1/4 c. water
1 c. unbleached white flour or whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 c. plus 1 T. water
1/2 c. soy (my 1st choice) or other creamy non-dairy milk (hemp milk, cashew milk or oat milk would be the best choices if you don’t use soy)
1/4 c. chickpea flour, white bean flour, or full-fat soy flour
2 T. nutritional yeast flakes
2 tsp. unbleached sugar
1/2 tsp. EACH baking powder and salt
OPTIONAL: a pinch EACH of white pepper and freshly-ground nutmeg

Mix the water and ¼ cup egg replacer in a blender until frothy. Add the remaining ingredients to the blender and beat for one minute. The batter should be like heavy cream. (This can be made ahead, but the batter does not require resting for 30 minutes, as many crepe batters do.)

Crespelle are made like ordinary crepes. Heat a well-seasoned 8" cast iron, stainless steel (with heavy bottom) or carbon steel skillet over medium-high heat and wipe it lightly with oil before making each crepe.

Use 3 T. of batter per crepe (stirring the batter before you make each crepe), rolling and tilting the pan until it evenly covers the bottom. Cook for a few seconds, or until the top looks dry. Carefully loosen the crepe with a spatula and flip it over. After a few seconds the other side should be dry. Fold into quarters or roll like a jelly roll and place on a plate (or leave them flat if you are going to stack them with filling). If you are going to use the crepes shortly, cover them with a clean tea towel.

NOTE: You can either fill the crepes and serve according to the specific recipe directions, or let them cool and place in a plastic bag or rigid container (with pieces of parchment paper in between each crepe) and refrigerate for up to 3 days, or freeze them for future use (thaw thoroughly before filling).






Version #2
EASY VEGAN CREPES
Makes 16
(From the book “World Vegan Feast” by Bryanna Clark Grogan, Vegan Heritage Press, Woodstock, Virginia, 2011 and 2014, recipes updated May 10, 2019.)

These vegan crepes have that flexible "egg-y" texture of traditional crepes, which makes them easy to handle. You can make them ahead and refrigerate them for several days or freeze them for several weeks.

2 1/4 cup creamy non-dairy milk (soy is my choice; hemp milk, cashew milk or oat milk would be the best choices if you don’t use soy)
1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour OR whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup (6 ounces) medium-firm tofu or extra-firm silken tofu, drained and crumbled
1/3 cup chickpea flour (besan), or full-fat soy flour, or white bean flour
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 large pinch turmeric

Process all ingredients in a blender until very smooth. You do not need to "rest" the batter before cooking, as you do with egg crepe batter.

Heat an 8-inch well-seasoned cast iron, stainless steel (with heavy bottom) or carbon steel skillet over medium-high heat and wipe it lightly with oil before making each crepe. Use 3 tablespoons of batter per crepe (stirring the batter before you make each crepe), rolling and tilting the pan until it evenly covers the bottom. Cook for a few seconds or until the top looks dry. Carefully loosen the crepe with a thin non-metal spatula-turner and flip it over. After a few seconds the other side should be dry. Serve immediately with your favorite topping or filling.

For filling later, fold each crepe, as it comes from the pan, into quarters or roll like a jelly roll or leave them flat (depending upon how you are going to fill and/or roll or stack them) and transfer them to a large platter or baking sheet. Cover them with a clean kitchen towel.

To store for future use, transfer the cooled crepes to a zipper-lock bag or rigid container (with cut-to-fit pieces of baking parchment in between each crepe) and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze them for use in up to three weeks. Frozen crepes should be thawed thoroughly before filling.

WAYS TO SERVE ITALIAN CREPES (CRESPELLE);

This is the recipe my mother loved best ❤️❤️ (Photo at top of post.):
CREAMY ROASTED ASPARAGUS CRESPELLE (ITALIAN CREPES) WITH VEGAN BESCIAMELLA (BECHAMEL) SAUCE
Serves 5 to 6
(From the book “World Vegan Feast” by Bryanna Clark Grogan, Vegan Heritage Press, Woodstock, Virginia, 2011 and 2014, recipes updated May 10, 2019.)

Delicate vegan crepes rolled around sweet roasted asparagus spears and melty vegan cheese, bathed in a rich vegan béchamel sauce—comfort food, indeed! These delicious Italian-style vegan crepes make a very easy, but elegant brunch or supper dish. My late mother, Eve Tonge Urbina, always loved them for a Mother’s Day brunch.

This is a great make-ahead dish for company. You can make the crepes and the sauce, a day or two ahead of time, if you wish and quickly cook the asparagus just before rolling the crepes. You can then assemble the crepes well before the meal and then they can just be popped into the oven for 10 to 20 minutes before serving.

Tip: Other vegetables can be used, but I think asparagus is most elegant and needs little seasoning. If you like, you can spread a few sautéed fresh mushrooms over the asparagus.

15 to 16 Easy Vegan Crepes, cooked (recipe above)
2 pounds of fresh asparagus (medium-sized stalks, not thin ones), washed and woody stalks removed
Tip: Bend each stalk and the asparagus will naturally snap at the point where it becomes tough.
2 tablespoons olive oil
coarse sea salt or kosher salt
2 cups shredded melty vegan white cheese (There are many brands, such as Daiya, Sheese, Lisanatti, Go Veggie, Tofutti, Vegan Gourmet, So Delicious, Pamela Creamery, and Ocado Free From.)
salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste
1 recipe Vegan Besciamella (Béchamel or White Sauce) (Recipe below)

To roast the asparagus, preheat oven to 425°F. Toss the asparagus spears gently with the olive oil, using your hands so that they are evenly coated. Distribute the asparagus spears in one layer in a 12 x 17-inch baking sheet or in two 9 x 13 baking sheets. Sprinkle the asparagus lightly with the salt of your choice. Roast the asparagus for about 15 minutes or until tender-crisp and starting to brown a little. Remove from the oven.

Leave the oven temperature at 425°F.

To assemble the crepes, divide the roasted asparagus evenly to fill 15 crepes. Place one portion of asparagus almost in the middle of each crepe and sprinkle with about 2 tablespoons of the vegan cheese. Roll the crepe up neatly but not tightly around the asparagus. Carefully transfer the filled crepes to an 8 x 12-inch baking pan, oiled or lined with baking parchment, in one layer, seam-side-down in. Use an attractive ceramic or glass 8 x 12-inch baking dish if you plan to serve the dish at the table.

Pour the Béchamel Sauce over the crepes, covering evenly.

Bake for 10 minutes (15 to 20 minutes if the filled crepes have been refrigerated), uncovered. The sauce should be bubbly and starting to turn a little golden on top. Serve immediately. Tip: You need a knife and fork to eat these crepes, as the asparagus is not cut into pieces.




CRESPELLE RIPIENE (STUFFED CREPES) AND VARIOUS SAVORY FILLINGS
Serves 6
the book “World Vegan Feast” by Bryanna Clark Grogan, Vegan Heritage Press, Woodstock, Virginia, 2011 and 2014; recipes updated May 10, 2019.
This recipe (and lots of photos) can also b
e found at this link.

Serve crespelle with a light tomato sauce or Vegan Bechamel Sauce/ Besciamella (see recipe below ). You can also layer Besciamella over the tomato sauce, along with some vegan parmesan (See Note below for brands and a recipe), for a really special dish.

The following is a basic cheese-y spinach filling, but there are other filling ideas below. (See photo above of finished dish.

1 recipe (12) Crespelle Vegan (Italian-Style Vegan Crepes, recipe above)
2 cups light tomato sauce or Marinara sauce
Spinach and "Cheese" Filling:
2 medium onions, minced
1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
2 lbs. fresh cleaned spinach (or other greens), OR 2 10 oz. pckgs. chopped frozen spinach (or other greens)
1 1/2 c. Tofu Ricotta OR Almond Ricotta (See recipes at the bottom of this post)
4 to 6 T. vegan Parmesan (See Note below for brands and a recipe)
salt, freshly ground pepper and nutmeg to taste

Saute the onions in the olive oil in a non-stick skillet until they are soft and starting to brown (adding a tiny bit of water as needed-- I use a squirt bottle-- to keep from sticking).

Meanwhile, place the fresh spinach in boiling water until it is completely wilted, then drain, squeeze dry and chop it. OR, if using frozen spinach, thaw it thoroughly (you can quick-thaw it by placing the whole carton in the microwave for 5 minutes) and squeeze it as dry as possible.

Mix the spinach in a bowl with the cooked onions, ricotta, soy Parmesan, and salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. (It should be strongly seasoned.)

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Place a generous amount of filling down the center of each crepe and roll it up. Place the rolls in an oiled baking dish. (You can prepare the crepes up to this point several hours ahead of time.) Pour a little of the sauce you are using over the crepes, sprinkle with soy Parmesan or alternate, and bake 20 minutes. Serve with more sauce on the side.

(To make fazzoletti, spread 2 or 3 T. filling over one half of the crepe, fold over the other half, then fold the whole thing in half to make a triangle. Stand the fazzoletti up in the oiled baking pan or casserole with their points sticking upwards. Dab a little vegan butter on the point of each fazzoletti. Bake about 20 minutes and serve the sauce on the side.)

FILLING VARIATIONS:
"Cheese" Filling:
2 1/2 c. Tofu Ricotta or Almond Ricotta (See recipes at the bottom of this post), and vegan Parmesan to taste (See Note below for brands of vegan parmesan) 
1/2 c. chopped fresh Italian parsley OR 1/4 c. EACH chopped fresh Italian parsley and basil
salt and freshly-ground pepper and nutmeg to taste

Mix all of the ingredients together well. Serve topped with a light tomato sauce or Besciamella sauce (see recipe below), and vegan parmesan (See Note below for brands of vegan parmesan and a recipe; and ricotta recipes).

"Meat" and Spinach Filling:
2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
2 c. chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. fresh spinach, steamed, drained, squeezed dry and chopped OR a 10 oz. pckg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
“Meat” choices (choose one):
#1) 12-16 oz. commercial "hamburger crumbles" of your choice,
#2) 3 c. ground seitan
#3) 3 c. frozen tofu, thawed, crumbled and squeezed, and mixed with 1/3 c. light soy sauce,
#4) 2 1/4 c. dry textured soy protein granules soaked in 1 7/8 c. boiling water with 1/3 c. light soy sauce
Additional:
1 T. dried oregano (or 3 T. chopped fresh)
freshly-ground black pepper to taste

To make the Filling, heat the olive oil in a large well-seasoned cast iron, stainless steel (with heavy bottom), or carbon steel skillet skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute until they begin to soften. Add the garlic and sauté a few minutes longer. Add the squeezed spinach and stir-fry for a few minutes. Add the hamburger substitute of your choice with the oregano and cook until the mixture is fairly dry. Set aside to cool.

Serve with a light tomato or Marinara sauce and vegan parmesan (see Note below for vegan brands and a recipe). You can also drizzle some Besciamella sauce(recipe below ) over the tomato sauce, if you wish.

The following fillings should be used with a Besciamella sauce (recipe below) rather than a tomato sauce, and topped with vegan parmesan (see Note below for vegan brands and a recipe).

Mushroom Filling: (NOTE: You can use fresh shiitakes, oyster mushrooms, chanterelles, or portobellos, if you like.)
2 T. extra-virgin olive oil or vegan butter
1 medium onion, minced
1 lb. mushrooms (preferably criminis), chopped
1/2 c. dry white wine
1/4 c. Besciamella sauce (see recipe below)
OPTIONAL:
1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 c. vegan parmesan (see Note below for vegan brands and a recipe)
salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste

Heat the oil or vegan butter in a large well-seasoned cast iron, stainless steel (with heavy bottom), or carbon steel skillet skillet skillet. Add the onion and sauté over medium-high heat until the onion softens and begins to brown a bit. Turn the heat to high, add the wine and let it evaporate. Add the mushrooms (and optional rosemary) and cook, watching closely, until they have extruded their liquid and it almost evaporates. Season to taste with salt and pepper, add the Besciamella sauce (and optional vegan parmesan, if using).

Porcini Filling Variation:
Make the Mushroom Filling above, but add about 1/2 an ounce of dried porcini or boletus mushrooms which have soaked in 1/2 c. of hot water for 45 minutes. Strain the broth and use it instead of the wine in the Mushroom Filling. Chop the porcinis and add them to the filling.

Asparagus and Mushroom Filling (one of our favorites):
Use either the Mushroom or the Porcini Filling and add 1 c. of cooked fresh asparagus cut into 1/2" pieces.

Bocconcini:
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Make the "Cheese" Filling (see recipe above), but omit the parsley or parsley and basil. With a very sharp knife, cut the ends off of each rolled crepe, then cut each crepe into 3 pieces. Rub a large baking dish with vegan butter and arrange the bocconcini close together, standing up (with the filling showing) in it. Bake 20 minutes and serve hot.

BRYANNA’S DAIRY-FREE BESCIAMELLA (BECHAMEL OR WHITE SAUCE)      
Makes 2 cups
(can be wheat-free and soy-free)  (From my book “World Vegan Feast” by Bryanna Clark Grogan, Vegan Heritage Press, Woodstock, Virginia, 2011 and 2014; recipes updated May 10, 2019.

This rich-tasting sauce is actually quite low in fat.  It can be used as an all-purpose white sauce in all of your cooking, and as a topping for Greek dishes, such as vegetarian moussaka, and even as a substitute for melted cheese in many casseroles.  In Italy, this type of sauce is used on lasagne rather than the heavy melted cheeses in American-style lasagne.
           
I think this formula is a great improvement upon vegan white sauces made completely with soymilk, which I find too sweet.  The tofu (or cashews) and broth cube add richness without much fat.

2 T. dairy-free margarine or extra-virgin olive oil
1 and 1/2 to 3 T. unbleached flour (depending on thickness desired)

Blended Mixture:
1 c. soymilk or other plant-based milk
1/2 c. extra-firm SILKEN tofu OR regular medium-firm tofu, crumbled
1/2 c. water
1 "chicken-style" vegetarian broth cube (or enough for 1 c. of liquid), crumbled
1/2 tsp. salt
a large pinch EACH of freshly-grated nutmeg and white pepper
           
Place all of the Blended Mixture ingredients, EXCEPT the nutmeg and pepper, in the blender and blend until VERY smooth.  Set aside.

Melt the margarine in a medium, heavy saucepan and whisk in the flour.  Whisk it over medium-high heat for a few minutes, but remove from heat before it starts to change color (you want a white "roux").  Scrape this into the Blended Mixture and blend for a few seconds, then pour the mixture back into the pot.  Stir over medium-high heat until it thickens and boils; turn down and simmer on low for a few minutes.  Whisk in the nutmeg and pepper.
           
MICROWAVE OPTION: Melt the margarine in a large microwave-safe bowl or 1 qt. Pyrex measuring beaker on HiGH for 45 seconds.  Whisk in the flour and microwave on HIGH 2 minutes.  Scrape this into the Blended Mixture and blend briefly, then pour it back into the bowl or beaker, or pour in the Blended mixture and mix with a hand immersion blender until smooth.  Microwave on HIGH for 2 minutes.  Whisk.  Microwave for 2 more minutes.  Whisk. Microwave for 2 minutes more. Whisk in the nutmeg and pepper.

To make this sauce very low-fat, leave out the margarine and simply you can just blend the flour in with the sauce ingredients, then cook as directed.  You can use reduced fat tofu and soymilk, too, if you like.


ALLERGY NOTES:
To make this sauce soy-free, omit the tofu; use 1/4 c. more rice or almond milk (1 and 1/4 in total) and use 1/4 c. raw cashews instead of the tofu.  Since the cashews have a thickening effect, use less flour. Use only 2 tsp. soy-free and dairy-free margarine, or use olive oil.

To make this sauce wheat-free, add the melted margarine or olive oil directly to the blended mixture, along with 1 to 4 T. white rice flour (or mochiko flour, also known as sweet/glutinous rice flour) in stead of the wheat flour (so you omit the first cooking step).  4 T. makes a very thick sauce.

NOTE: Sauces made with mochiko flour (sweet/glutinous white rice flour--  see above) are excellent for freezing (for instance, if you freeze a prepared but not baked lasagne), because the sauce will not separate when thawed.


NOTE: VEGAN PARMESAN, COMMERCIAL AND A RECIPE
Follow Your Heart (called Earth Island in Canada) Dairy-Free Parmesan (Shredded)
Follow Your Heart (called Earth Island in Canada) Dairy-Free Parmesan (Grated)
GO VEGGIE Vegan Parmesan Grated Topping
GO VEGGIE Vegan Soy Free Parmesan Grated Topping
Parma! Vegan Parmesan
Violife Just Like Parmesan Wedge
OR make your own (this is not my recipe)

Enjoy!

Thursday, May 4, 2006

VEGAN PIZZA NIGHT

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On the left are the pizzas I made for dinner last night, cooked in dark metal pizza pans on the oven racks, at 550 degrees F, with convection; on the right is a pizza made with the same dough, but baked on unglazed ceramic tiles in my oven, same temperature.

The pictures are just to illustrate the different quality of pizza that you can get in your own home oven. They were both good, by the way! But the "stone-baked" one has a crust that is crispy all over, not just on the bottom. It looks more Italian, somehow! Last night I was just too preoccupied to heat up the tiles
beforehand.

I'm not going to go into a long explanation of how I make pizza.  For that you can get my book Nonna's Italian Kitchen (your library might have it) or my new book World Vegan Feast for a newer version.

There is so much bad pizza out there! Which is puzzling, because, once you know a few things, it's easy. And the dough is not an afterthought-- in Italy it is the primary component, and it should be here in N.A., too. In Italy they don't over load a pizza with sauce, ingredients, cheese, etc.. The dough is simple, very simple, but it tastes so good you want to eat the edges, and you don't need them to be stuffed with cheese or have some gloppy sauce to dip them into! I'm going to give you my latest favorite dough recipe, which is from my newsletter. Both of the pizzas above were made with this dough.

HINT: Pizza dough is better if you make it hours before using and let it rise in the refrigerator for 8-14 hours. Yes, it's true, and it's very convenient. The directions are in the recipe below. An alternative is to make it in the morning, let it rise once, punch it down and refrigerate as instructed until about 2 hours before dinner (so it has time to warm up). Why is it better this way? Because dough needs time to develop the enzymes which give dough flavor and good texture.

BTW, "American Pie" by master baker Peter Reinhart is a wonderful book on pizza!

A way to stretch the dough without rolling or throwing in the air! Drape the dough over an over-turned bowl (see picture) and gently stretch it  all around until it is the right size, again using the weight of the dough stretch it.


Work slowly so that you don’t tear the dough. If it does tear, you can patch it and seal it again. The pizza does not have to be absolutely round!

Cheers!