Monday, January 5, 2015


Best Blog Tips


Yesterday, I checked the refrigerator for greens that needed using up.  We live on an island, so we only shop every 2 weeks.  I'm trying to avoid any food waste (watching this documentary has strengthened my resolve!), so I moved all the vegetables out of the refrigerator drawers (filled them with condiments) and I have my veggies right in the center of the fridge, with the ones that need to be used up first in the front, so that I don't forget about them.  Anyway, I had spinach and baby bok choy to use up, so I turned to two of my older recipes.  (BTW, if you can't watch that movie outside of Canada, check out this review and watch for screenings in your area-- it's worth watching!)

For lunch, I made Baby Bok Choy and Tofu Soup from my book "Authentic Chinese Cuisine for the Contemporary Kitchen: All Vegan Recipes", and, for dinner (because I had some vegan crepes left over from Saturday breakfast, and some of DH's spaghetti sauce in the refrigerator), I made Italian Savory Crepes Stuffed with Vegan Ricotta & Spinach from my book "Nonna's Italian Kitchen: Delicious Home-Style Vegan Cuisine", both with a couple of little tweaks. It's been too long since I made these recipes-- so delicious and healthful!  So, I'd like to share the recipes with you. Enjoy!

Crepes have been made in Italy for centuries, with many different types of flours.  They are particularly popular in Tuscany. 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), particularly the spinach and ricotta filling from Florence, which I have veganized and used in the following recipe.
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. PS: The crepe recipe I used last night and publish here is actually from another on of my books, "Soyfoods Cooking for a Positive Menopause".

Printable Recipe (Includes crepe recipe)

Serves 6 
(Can be soy-free)

12 vegan crepes (see my recipe below-- can be made ahead and refrigerated or frozen--OR you can use my recipe for Fat-Free Whole Grain Crepes)
Spinach and "Cheese" Filling:
2 onions, minced
1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
2 lbs. fresh cleaned spinach, OR 2/ 10 oz. pckgs. chopped frozen spinach, thawed
1 1/2 cups Tofu or Almond Ricotta OR Okara/Cashew Ricotta
4 to 6 tablespoons vegan Parmesan substitute (we like GoVeggie! brand)
salt, freshly ground pepper to taste, and a pinch of nutmeg
Bake crespelle with a light tomato sauce or a medium Besciamella (Bechamel) sauce, ( or you can layer Besciamella over the tomato sauce, for a really special dish), along with a vegan Parmesan substitute or alternate. There is a recipe for my low-fat Creamy White-Bean-Flour Based Bechamel here, and my basic vegan Bechamel/White sauce recipe is here.

Sauté the onions in the olive oil in a non-stick or cast iron or hard-anodized skillet until they are soft and starting to brown (adding a tiny bit of water as needed, to keep from sticking).  

Meanwhile, place the fresh spinach in boiling water until it is completely wilted, then drain, squeeze dry, and chop it finely.  OR, if using frozen chopped 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, Parmesan sub , and salt, pepper and to taste, and a pinch of nutmeg.  

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees 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 Parmesan or alternative (and some shredded vegan mozza-type cheese, too, if you like) and bake for 20 minutes. 

Serve immediately!


Makes 12-13 crepes

From my book "Soyfoods Cooking for a Positive Menopause".

These are really excellent--they have that flexible "eggy" texture of regular crepes.  You can freeze them, too.

1 1/2 cups non-dairy milk
1 cup unbleached white flour or whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup medium-firm tofu or silken tofu
1/4 cup soy or chickpea flour
OPTIONAL: 1 to 2 tablespoons  nutritional yeast flakes
1 tablespoon unbleached organic sugar
1/2 tsp. EACH salt and baking powder
a pinch of nutmeg

Process all ingredients in a food processor or blender until very smooth.  If the batter seems too thick (and it should be like thick cream), whisk in a bit more non-dairy milk or water until it is the right consistency.

No need to "rest" this batter first.  Tofu crepes are made just like ordinary crepes.

Heat a nonstick or cast-iron 8" skillet over medium-high heat and wipe it lightly with oil before making each crepe. Use 3-4 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 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.

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 waxed paper in between each crepe) and refrigerate for up to 3 days, or freeze them for future use (thaw thoroughly before filling).


Printable Recipe

Serves 4-8
This makes a wonderful light lunch. The sum is definitely greater than the simple parts of this delicious soup!

1 1/2 lb. baby bok choy, washed, dried and trimmed (separate the stems if they are on the larger side)
6-8 dried Chinese black mushrooms, soaked in boiling water for 30 minutes, and stems removed (save soaking water)
1 cup sliced fresh white or brown (cremini) mushrooms
1 tablespoon oil
12 cubes of commercial fried tofu OR, for a lower-fat version, use Oven-Broiled Tofu (see below)
5 cups light vegetarian broth (I like Better Than Bouillon No-Chicken Vegan Soup Base)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons dry to medium sherry or rice wine
2 1/2 c. cooked gan mian or ji mian (plain, thin flour and water noodles), or spaghettini (can be whole grain), or buckwheat soba
dark sesame oil, for drizzling

If using the commercial fried tofu cubes, pour boiling water over them, let stand for a few minutes, then drain and squeeze out as much water and oil as you can.  Cut the cubes in half.
Heat a large wok or stir-fry pan or heavy pot over high heat.  When hot, add the oil.  When the oil is hot, add the bok choy, dried mushrooms and fresh mushrooms.  Stir-fry for 2-3 minutes.  Add the remaining ingredients, including the mushroom soaking water and the fried or oven-broiled tofu.  Let it simmer for a few minutes, until everything is hot.
Serve immediately and pass the sesame oil to sprinkle over each serving.

Nutrition Facts

Nutrition (per serving): 214 calories, 85 calories from fat, 9.8g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 858.7mg sodium, 526mg potassium, 24.7g carbohydrates, 4.9g fiber, 4.3g sugar, 11.3g protein.

This is my fat-free sub for fried tofu in certain recipes!
Cut 12-14 ounces of extra-firm tofu into cubes or triangles of your choice of size.  Lightly oil a cookie sheet.  Place the tofu pieces, not touching, on the sheet and spray lightly with oil from a pump sprayer.  Place the sheet about 6 inches under a heated oven broiler.  Broil for several minutes (checking every couple of minutes), until the tofu is golden and crusty, and maybe even a little charred, on top.  Turn the pieces over and repeat for the other side.  The 2nd side will take less time, so watch carefully!  Remove from the oven immediately.  PS: You can make a large batch of this and  refrigerate for other recipes. 



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