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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

RANDOM HAPPENINGS AND MEALS ON DENMAN ISLAND; FAVORITE LOWFAT "BUTTER"

Best Blog Tips We, like many others on either coast, have had company all week-- visitors from land-locked Michigan (not counting the lakes!). They loved our area and we got to do some sight-seeing, which one rarely does in one's home region. Anyway, not much time for blogging, so here's a bit of this and that, including a recipe:


My Seitan "Ham". I wanted my guests (Lydia is a vegan personal chef) to try my vegan seitan "ham", so I made some and served it in the traditional manner. (Update:  I'm still planning a seitan cookbook and this recipe will be in it.)


Snap peas from our garden, stir-fried with Soy Curls (see here for info). The recipe, which I made for a casual lunch for our guests one day, is adapted from the Tofu with Snow Peas recipe in my book "Authentic Chinese Cuisine for the Contemporary Kitchen".






Strawberry Crepes or Blintzes. Blintzes are crepes (my vegan Tofu Crepes from my book "Soyfoods Cooking for a Positive Menopause", in this case) filled with cottage cheese and are supposed to be folded into bundles and browned in a bit of butter, but I usually bake them instead. I make my own Tofu Cottage Cheese . For fancier filled crepes (like the bottom photo), I use my Tofu Cashew Ricotta from my book "Nonna's Italian Kitchen". You could also use a commercial tofu "cream cheese", such as Tofutti or Sheese brands (or my new Okara/Cashew Ricotta).






My low-fat "Corn Butter". After the excesses of this last week, I'm trying to stay on Weight Watcher's Core Plan as much as possible, so I made some of my "Corn Butter", so I don't have to feel guilty when I "butter" a piece of DH's fresh-baked wholewheat bread!

I have fooled around with low-fat "fake butters" for years. This is my current favorite (Update, 2012: it still is!)-- tastes very good, melts and only 13.5 calories per tablespoon!  NOTE: Don't try to use this for baking or frying, etc., instead of butter or margarine, though-- it's only meant for spreading, topping potatoes, etc.

UPDATE, 2011: To make this spread richer, but still fairly low-calorie, add 1/2 cup of your favorite vegan "buttery spread" (see the recipe for my homemade vegan palm oil-free "Buttah") to the full recipe (or 1/4 cup to the half recipe at the end).  Add it after you have blended it smooth and blend a little more.  Then refrigerate as usual.  This makes a spread with about 40 calories per tablespoon instead of about 100 for butter or margarine.

Printable Recipe
BRYANNA'S COCONUT-CORN BUTTERY SPREAD (ULTRA LOW-FAT, LOW-CALORIE) (WW Core Plan Compatible) Updated Dec. 8, 2008
Yield: about 2 cups


This spread is easy, inexpensive, and needs no exotic ingredients, such as kosher gelatin. It can be soy-free. I never think of coconut in conjunction with low fat, but grated dessicated coconut actually contains only about 150 calories per 1/2 cup (1/2 cup of coconut milk contains about 200 calories, and coconut cream about 100 calories a tablespoon!) and contains some fiber. Don't leave it out-- it adds some richness to the recipe.
          This WHOLE recipe contains less than the amount of calories in 4 1/2 tablespoons of butter or margarine, and about the same amount of fat as 7 teaspoons of butter or margarine!

1/3 cup corn flour (see Cooking Tips below) or yellow cornmeal
(*NOTE: Corn flour makes a smoother mixture than cornmeal, if you don't have a heavy-duty blender; more info below in Cooking Tips)
1/3 cup cold water
2/3 cup hot water
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup finely shredded unsweetened dessicated coconut
1/3 cup nondairy milk
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 1/4 teaspoons salt

Mix in a microwavable bowl or a small saucepan, mix the cornmeal and 1/3 cup of the cold water. Stir in the hot water.

Cook in a double-boiler-type arrangement (with the saucepan inside of another pan of simmering water) for 10 minutes, OR MICROWAVE on high power in the bowl for 1 minute, whisk, microwave 1 minute more, whisk, and microwave 1 minute more.

Place this in a blender along with the warm water, coconut, lemon juice, and salt.

Blend for several minutes, until as smooth as possible (this is important). Be patient! It will have a bit of graininess from the coconut, but should not have much.

Place in a covered container in the refrigerator. It firms up nicely, but remains spreadable. It's good on veggies and potatoes, too, and you can add garlic and broil it on cut bread for garlic toast (maybe with a sprinkle of soy parmesan).

TO MAKE HALF THE RECIPE (1 cup):

For the mush, use:
2  3/4 T. cornmeal or corn flour
(See *Note about cornmeal and corn flour in main recipe above; and more info below in Cooking Tips)
2 3/4 T. cold water
1/3 c. boiling water

If microwaving, cook in 45 second increments, instead of 1 minute ones.
To the mush add:

1/4 c. warm water
2 3/4 T. non-dairy milk
1/4 c. unsweetened shredded coconut
5/8 tsp. salt
1 tsp. lemon juice

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per 2 tablespoons)
: 27.8 calories; 53% calories from fat; 1.7g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 151.9mg sodium; 27.3mg potassium; 2.8g carbohydrates; 0.6g fiber; 0.2g sugar; 2.2g net carbs; 0.6g protein; 0.6 points.

Cooking Tips
CORN FLOUR

Corn flour is NOT the same as cornstarch (confusingly, what we call "cornstarch" in North America is referred to as "corn flour" in the UK)- it's very finely-ground yellow cornmeal. I can find it in the Asian or Indian section of my supermarkets, but also look for it in Indian (East Asian) markets and health food stores (Bob's Red Mill packages an organic variety).

*Note: If you can't find corn flour, or if you prefer to use organic products, grind the finest yellow cornmeal you can find in a clean coffee/spice mill until it is powdery (this is important), or grind yellow cornmeal on the finest setting of your electric grain mill (I had to run it through mine twice).




Enjoy!

Monday, July 23, 2007

TWO RECENT DINNER PARTIES WITH FRIENDS

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DINNER #1: Last Monday we had some good friends and fellow vegans over for a casual dinner to catch up-- we're both so busy we hardly see eachother! Here's the Middle Eastern-style menu (I know, I've been on a bit of a Middle Eastern kick, but it suits the summer!):

Grilled Eggplant and Zucchini Slices with Taheena Sauce and Parsley

Dajaj ma' Hummous ("Chicken" with Chickpeas, using Soy Curls) (recipe below)

Mixed Salad

Bulgur Pilaf (bulgur wheat cooked with onions, herbs and veggie broth)

Fresh Lemonade, Palestinian-Style (recipe below)

Almond-Rosewater Rice Pudding (originally from my supscription newsletter, the Vegan Feast; recipe in my new book) with Strawberries




The salad was mixed organic baby greens, marinated artichoke hearts, green olives, sundried tomatoes, and cucumber slices in a lemon/olive oil/garlic/and salt dressing

Printable Recipes (both of them)

VEGAN DAJAJ MA HUMMUS ("CHICKEN" WITH CHICKPEAS, VEGAN-STYLE) (WW CORE PLAN COMPATIBLE)
Servings: 6
This was fragrant and delicious! I adapted it from a recipe in "From the Land of Figs and Olives" by Habeeb Salloum and James Peters.

2 Tbs Earth Balance (or olive oil)
6 cups reconstituted Soy Curls (butlerfoods.com) (that's 6 oz., or 4 1/2 cups dry) (see here for info about Soy Curls)
(You could also use "chicken" seitan or other "chicken" subs instead)
2 medium onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup minced cilantro or parlsey
1 can (19 oz or 540 ml) chickpeas (or 1 1/2- 2 cups cooked), drained
4 cups chicken-style vegetarian broth
3 Tbs tomato paste
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp chili powder
salt and pepper to taste

In a large nonstick skillet, sauté the Soy Curls in the Earth Balance over medium heat until they turn golden brown in spots. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Steam-fry the onions in the same pan over high heat until they begin to brown, adding a splash of water as needed to keep from sticking, and stirring often. Add the garlic and cilantro. Stir-fry for another 3 minutes. Stir in the remaining ingredients, including the Soy Curls, and bring to a boil.

Turn down the heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until it is stew-like. Taste for salt and pepper. Serve hot over basmati rice or bulgur, or with pita.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving):
250.9 calories; 34% calories from fat; 9.7g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 60.5mg sodium; 320.4mg potassium; 26.5g carbohydrates; 8.3g fiber; 6.2g sugar; 18.3g net carbs; 15.8g protein; 5.0 points.

I recently imbibed the BEST lemonade I have ever tasted at "The Palestine Cafe" on Victoria Drive in Vancouver, BC. (Update, 2011-- no longer there, unfortunately. Update 2013:  the owners have opened a new restaurant at a different location-- to great reviews! http://www.tamam.ca/) So I wanted to recreate that drink. I found this recipe online and it was delicious!

PALESTINIAN LEMONADE WITH MINT LEAVES FOR 4
Serves about 6-8
I adapted this from a recipe from "Amea Recipes". (Update: the website is no longer there.)

Here is the lovely quote that accompanied the recipe:
"She offered me a chair by the kitchen table and disappeared through the service door that led to the garden and came back with 6 lemons and a small bunch of mint leaves. As she squeezed them and stirred the juice with sugar and water in a pitcher, I found myself trying to recollect when I last had fresh lemonade. She carefully washed a few mint leaves and put them in the pitcher, and from a small bottle that was sitting on a shelf, she added two drops of a sweet transparent liquid. She then sat across from me and remained silent. Before she finally took a sip from her drink, she pointed to mine as a form of invitation, and I had a spurt of the essential quality of what the earth can offer. It was the two drops of essence of orange blossom that made all the difference." -- Christiane Dabdoub Nasser, "Leyla"

Juice of 6 large lemons
organic unbleached sugar to taste (or agave nectar)-- make it too sweet, because you will serve this over lots of ice, which will dilute the sweetness
7 cups water
2 teaspoon orange blossom water
handful of tender fresh mint leaves
Thin slices of lemon

Squeeze the lemons and stir in the sugar. Add water and keep on stirring, making sure all the sugar has dissolved.

Add mint leaves, essence and a few slices of lemon and refrigerate for an hour before serving in tall glasses with lots of ice.

**************************************************************

DINNER #2: On another day, we had more friends, another vegan couple and a non-vegan couple, over for a summer dinner. This time it had an Italian theme and vegans and non-vegans alike loved it:


Italian White Bean Salad with Herbs and Miso Dressing (from my book "Nonna's Italian Kitchen") (NOTE: I use miso instead of anchovies in my Italian cooking)

Piedmontese Rice Salad with Roasted Garlic Dressing (I used snap peas from our garden instead of the asparagus in the recipe, and used brown basmati rice)

Breast of Tofu (recipe in most of my books), served cold with my Low-fat Vegan Mayonnaise blended with fresh basil and garlic

Brian's Bread (my husband's homemade bread, mostly whole wheat with some oats and sesame on the bottom)

Sundried tomatoes, marinated artichoke hearts and olives

Tofu-Cashew Cheezecake with Strawberry Sauce from my book "Soyfoods Cooking for a Positive Menopause"



I doubled the recipe and made this in a springform pan, baking it for an hour.

Enjoy!

Friday, July 20, 2007

EASY, DELICIOUS RED LENTIL SUPPER DISH

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This is a traditional Palestinian dish, little known in Western circles. I've been wanting to try it for some time, and this week, busy with a lot of different things, it seemed like an easy meal-- and it was! I've seen this recipe here and there on the 'Net, and I didn't change it, but I was little more exact with the measurements. It is simple and homey, not terribly attractive, but we really liked it. The browned onions really make the dish, visually and taste-wise. I've noticed that many Middle Eastern home-style dishes utilize browned onions as a topping. I think it was, and still is, an inexpensive and clever way to add flavor and color to otherwise very simple dishes. The recipes seem to indicate that this dish is served at room temperature, but we ate it hot.

Do try this!
Printable Recipe

RISHTAYE (RED LENTIL AND PASTA RAGOUT WITH BROWNED ONIONS) (WW Core Plan-compatible)
Serves 3

1 cup red split lentils (orange lentils)
100 gms (about 3 1/2 oz.) egg-free tagliatelle or linguine pasta (flat)
4 cups (1 qt.) water
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cumin
Garnish:
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp. sumac (see notes about this lemony-tasting spice here)

Place the lentils and the tagliatelle in a deep pan (I used a stir-fry pan) with 3 cups of the water. Add the salt and cumin. When the water starts to boil start stirring, adding the last cup of water whenever the water level becomes minimal, until the mixture turns into a homogeneous thick broth-like mixture. This process should take about 15 minutes of stirring the mixture over medium heat of and on-- but keep an eye on it.


Before cooking


Half-cooked

While it cooked I browned the onions in a large nonstick skillet in the olive oil over medium heat, stirring often. You want them to be deep brown and a little crispy (see photo below).



Pour the mixture into 2 flat pasta bowls. Top with the onions, and then sprinkle the sumac on top.  Serve with green olives, salad, or spring onions and radish.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving):
421.1 calories; 13% calories from fat; 6.6g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 643.6mg sodium; 553.8mg potassium; 71.3g carbohydrates; 8.9g fiber; 3.5g sugar; 62.4g net carbs; 21.1g protein; 8.2 points.

Enjoy!



Sunday, July 15, 2007

COLD RED LENTIL AND BULGUR KIBBEH IN LETTUCE CUPS (WW Core Plan-Compatible)

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UPDATE Aug 3, 2011: It just occurred to me (duh!) that these are a form of kibbeh (see here for info on kibbeh), so I've changed the name of the recipe.  



ALSO, I  had some of the mixture leftover this week, and I tried making small patties out of it and browning them in a pan-- delish!  See the recipe below for instructions and more pics.

I adapted this recipe (with what I had in the house) from "Eating Well" magazine. I thought I had ruined it because I over-cooked the split lentils, so that they were mushy (to be fair-- this is very easy to do, since they cook so quickly!). The salad kind of stuck together like a pate. But I cooled it in the refrigerator and hoped for the best-- fortunately. It was more solid than a salad would be, so I decided to roll balls of it (loose balls) in the beautiful butter lettuce that we had just purchased here on Denman from Piercy Farm. Served with a bit more lettuce topped with juicy sliced grapefruit and olives (with a couple of sundried tomatoes on the side) in a balsamic vinaigrette, it was a filling and easy dinner for a hot summer evening! It was also delicious-- DH loved it!

Printable Recipe

COLD RED LENTIL AND BULGUR SALAD KIBBEH WITH DRIED FRUIT IN BUTTER LETTUCE CUPS (WW CORE PLAN COMPATIBLE)

1 1/2 cups water
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup bulgur wheat (medium or #2)
1/2 cup split red lentils
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup pitted dates

1/4 cup chopped pitted prunes
1/4 cup chopped dried apricots
1/4 cup chopped dried apricots
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
 
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 Tbs grated lime zest
(you could use lemon instead-- I just happened to have fresh limes)

OPTIONAL: 
2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil 
1/4 cup dry-toasted cashews, chopped
FOR SERVING: 
1 head butter lettuce, leaves separated, cleaned, spun and crisped well in the refrigerator

Bring water, cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon salt to a boil in a small saucepan; stir in bulgur, remove from the heat, cover the pan and set aside until the water has been absorbed, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.

Meanwhile, combine lentils and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt in a saucepan; add enough water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a simmer and cook until the lentils are mushy, like dahl, and don't drain them.

Add lentils, dried fruit, parsley, mint, lime juice and zest, and
optional cashews and oil (if using) to the bulgur. Toss well and chill for several hours.

When ready to serve, scoop out lumps of the mixture, roll them into balls and place them in crisp leaves of butter lettuce to serve. (I also added a dollop of my lowfat vegan mayonnaise which I had blended with a bunch of fresh basil and a bit of garlic, but that's optional.)

VARIATION-- HOT KIBBEH PATTIES: Form the chilled balls  into small patties and fry over medium-high heat in a nonstick skillet sprayed with olive oil from a pump sprayer until golden brown and crispy on both sides.  



Eat (minus the lettuce) hot with the basil mayo. 






Servings: 6

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving):
259.0 calories; 18% calories from fat; 5.4g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 90.3mg sodium; 588.6mg potassium; 48.9g carbohydrates; 8.1g fiber; 10.0g sugar; 40.9g net carbs; 8.4g protein; 4.8 points.

Enjoy!