Monday, April 30, 2007


Best Blog Tips

Spice Island Vegan told me about tasting the Gardein "Chick'n Breast" in a vegan restaurant in southern California and thought they were very good, so I couldn't resist when I saw them in my local health food store. I also bought the "Veggie Chick'n Strips". They aren't cheap, but not unduly expensive for two good servings (up to 4-5 servings for the strips if you mix them with other foods). UPDATE April 2017-- Gardein has been bought out my an American company and now we in Canada can only buy a very few of their products.

The "breasts" come already in a light sauce-- I got the Dijon mustard one. I saved it for a night when I was exhausted from working on the newsletter (I have had the computer week from hell!!-- corrupted files, disappearing uploads, internet service down....). I Just heated them in the microwave while I made a salad and cooked some orzo in veggie broth with mushrooms, green onions and choppped peppers (I cook it like rice, 1 part orzo to 2 parts broth for 15 minutes.)

The texture is pretty amazing! (Aside from the usual wheat gluten and soy protein, it contains pea protein, and carrot and beet fiber.) The sauce was very light, nothing exciting. If I buy this again, which I may or may not, I will rinse off the sauce and make my own. But we enjoyed it with the orzo.

Last night I used the strips (see alternatives in the recipe list) to try an interesting-sounding Palestinian recipe called "Chicken Fatteh" (I'm in a Middle Eastern cooking mode just now). "Fatteh" means that the recipe has fried bits of pita bread in it-- it can be a meat or a bean or a vegetable topping. I had some rather old pita in the freezer and thought I'd use some of it up in this and toast the reast for hummus dunkers.

So, here's the recipe:

Printable Recipe

Servings: 5

I used white basmati rice because I was in a hurry-- cooked 15 minutes in 1 1/2 cups water with a little salt. You could use brown basmati if you have more time (45 minutes). This sounds odd, but it was nice and garlicky, but comforting at the same time. I might add more herbs next time. My husband loved it! The crunchy pita was good.

1 large wholewheat pita bread, cut in little squares
1/2 Tbs olive oil
1 cup (dry) basmati rice, cooked (see recipe text above)
1 cup vegetarian "chicken-style" broth
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 Tbs olive oil
200 g vegan "chicken" strips OR use about 2 cups reconstituted Soy Curls (2 oz. dry) (NOTE: read more about Butler Foods Soy Curls  here.)
1 pinch nutmeg
freshly-ground black pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups tofu sour creme (can be commercial or homemade)
2 large cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts or chopped cashews
fresh parsley or mint, or dried mint

Heat oven to 400°F.

Heat the first 1/2 Tbs of oil in a nonstick skillet and fry the pieces of pita until golden.

Place in a 10" round casserole. Pour 1/2 the broth over the bread, and add 1/4 of the cooked rice and the one clove of garlic. Mix well.

Heat the second Tbs of oil in the skillet and brown the strips in it, adding some broth to keep from sticking. Add the nutmeg and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Spread the rest of the rice over the pita mixture and drizzle the remaing broth over it. Mix the 2 cloves crushed garlic with the Tofu Sour Creme and spread that over the rice.

Top with the Chick'n Strips.

Cover and place in the oven for 15-20 minutes, just to heat. Garnish.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving):
320.9 calories; 25% calories from fat; 9.7g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 483.3mg sodium; 440.4mg potassium; 38.7g carbohydrates; 1.3g fiber; 2.4g sugar; 37.4g net carbs; 21.4g protein; 7.0 points.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Best Blog Tips

I can't seem to catch up since I got back from Grand Rapids! I'm working hard and trying my best, but "catching up" eludes me still!

Anyway, I just wanted to give you a couple of easy and delicious recipes we had in the last few days. They are not spicy or elaborate, but they are comforting, cheap, quick, easy, and tasty!

Hashwee is a Lebanese rice dish, which can also be used as a stuffing for vegetables (cabbage, chard, zucchini, tomatoes, eggplant, etc.). It is an aromatic rice and ground meat dish, and using vegan "hamburger crumbles" makes it easy to veganize. We ate it "as is", but it is sometimes topped with boiled or grilled poultry, so you could top it with grilled vegetables, tempeh, tofu, or seitan, perhaps in a lemony baste or marinade, or with a spicy Middle Eastern-style marinade to offset the aromatic, but mild-tasting rice.

Printable Recipe

Serves 4 as a main dish

This is a delicious quick meal to eat with a salad. PS: If you would prefer, use brown basmati rice and use 4 cups broth instead of 3 (but it will take longer to cook).

Place in a large heavy pot, or rice-cooker:

3 cups vegetarian "chicken-style" broth
2 cups white basmati rice
1 packet vegan "hamburger crumbles
1 tsp. ground cinnamon (or you can use allspice, or a combination of allspice, cinnamon and nutmeg)
freshly-ground black pepper to taste
3 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

If using a rice cooker, cover and cook according to the directions for your cooker. if using a pot, bring to a boil, then cover, turn down to low and cook 20 minutes.

Just before serving, fold in:

1/4 cup more fresh parsley (and have some for garnish, too)
1/3 cup pinenuts (I used chopped cashews because that's all I had) browned in a little Earth Balance (save a few for garnish)

Serve each portion with a little chopped parsley and a few nut pieces, and lemon wedges on the side to squirt into the rice.

Servings: 4

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving):
524.9 calories; 11% calories from fat; 7.0g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 948.2mg sodium; 811.4mg potassium; 89.9g carbohydrates; 8.7g fiber; 3.5g sugar; 81.2g net carbs; 27.6g protein; 10.3 points.


Printable Recipe

Serves 4

Recipes for leek soups usually tell you to use only the whites, but I can't figure out why. I love the green part, too, and the color, so I use the whole leek.

1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 lb. leeks (white and green part; trimmed, cleaned, and sliced)
2 medium russet potatoes (1/2 lb.), peeled and diced
3 c. vegetarian "chicken-style" broth
1/2 tsp. salt
freshly-ground black pepper to taste

Optional Garnish: Tofu Sour Cream (Tofutti); a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil; minced fresh parsley, mint, basil or cilantro; paprika; curry powder; croutons; dillweed; chopped green onions or chives; etc.

In an oiled (preferably nonstick) medium pot over high heat stir-fry the onion and garlic for 5 minutes, adding a splash of water only as needed to keep from sticking. Don’t brown.. Add the leeks, potatoes, broth, and salt. Bring to a boil, cover, turn down, and simmer about 10-15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Puree right in the pot with an immersion hand blender. OR, with a slotted spoon, transfer all the solids to the food processor or blender and puree until smooth (IMPORTANT CAUTION: leave an escape in the lid for steam, or else hot veggies will explode all over you!). Add a bit of the broth, then stir the pureed mixture back into the pot.

Taste for salt and pepper.

Serve with one or two garnishes.

Servings: 4

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving):
179.5 calories; 3% calories from fat; 0.8g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 814.0mg sodium; 701.6mg potassium; 39.6g carbohydrates; 5.8g fiber; 7.5g sugar; 33.8g net carbs; 6.5g protein; 2.9 points.


Thursday, April 19, 2007


Best Blog Tips
Brian standing in front of an old blossoming tree at Filongley Park, which used to be a homestead, on Denman

VANCOUVER ISLANDERS: I will be appearing, along with more great vegan chefs at the Vancouver Island Vegetarian Association's (VIVA) Earth Day event this Saturday, April 21st, in Victoria, BC. I will be doing breakfast foods! More info here.

PORTLAND VEGFEST: I will be doing a demo at the Portland VegFest with my friend and fellow chef/teacher/author, Julie Hasson, on May 12th. Lots of great speakers, including, T. Colin Campbell and John Robbins! Get the details here.

Daffodils and blossoms have been out for a few weeks here now and, even though the temperature is a bit lower than normal, the sun is gaining strength. We've been hearing frogs for ages now, and dandelions are showing up, people are planting peas, there are worms all over the road in the mornings, among other signs of spring.

I'm sorry I haven't blogged much lately-- I have another workshop coming up, I'm late finishing the newsletter (sorry, guys!), and it's getting hard to keep up with emails and questions. The house is a mess and I've neglected my dancing and exercise. And I don't even have the excuse of being a gardener, or having little kids at home! Sheesh-- I'm slipping!

Oh, well...I thought you might enjoy this favorite quick spring meal of ours. I have versions in several of my books-- this is the one I use most now. It's kind of a compilation. I really like using the roasted vegetables in it. They taste great and they cook quickly without you having to watch them the whole time.

The pasta in this photo is fettucine-- But use wholewheat pasta for WW Core plan.

Printable Recipe
Serves 6

This version is gorgeously creamy, but almost fat-free. You can substitute any other vegetables that seem appropriate, or that proliferate in your garden or produce store. This is good enough for company!

TO MAKE SOY-FREE, substitute 2 c. of the Quick Creamy Sauce (Soy-Free Version) for the blended tofu mixture AND the broth. (see Recipe below) Use Parma for the topping.

1 lb. dry egg-free fettucine "nests", or linguine, spaghetti or other favorite pasta, wholewheat
1 medium onion, sliced
2 large cloves of garlic, chopped
1 lb. thin asparagus, trimmed and cut diagonally into slices
1/2 lb. button or crimini mushrooms, sliced
2 small zucchini or other summer squash, cut into 1/4" rounds
1 small carrot, peeled, halved lengthwise and sliced diagonally 1/8th" thick (or use about 4 sliced baby carrots)
OR 1 red, orange or yellow bell pepper, seeded and sliced
6 oz cauliflower, cut into small slices
1 c. baby peas OR 2 c. edible-pod snap peas, sliced 1" wide
1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
5 green onions, chopped
2 T. fresh basil
1 recipe Tofu Sour Creme (see recipe below)
1/2 c. "chicken-style" vegetarian broth
salt and pepper to taste
soy or nut “parmesan” to pass at the table (Galaxy Foods Vegan Soy Parmesan , or Parma!, [made from walnuts]

Make the Tofu Sour Creme.

Put the pasta on to boil in a large pot of boiling salted water.

Place all of the vegetables except the peas and green onions, in a large, shallow roasting pan and toss with the olive oil. Place the pan 3 or 4" under the broiler of your oven and roast the vegetables until they are slightly charred. Turn them over with a spatula, add the peas and green onions and broil them until they are crisp-tender and have some slightly charred edges. This whole operation should take only about 10 minutes.

Add the basil, Tofu Sour Creme and broth to the vegetables and stir gently. Taste for salt and pepper. When the pasta is al dente, drain it and add it to the sauce. Toss well and serve hot.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving, not counting "parmesan"):
354.8 calories; 9% calories from fat; 3.8g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 85.7mg sodium; 818.2mg potassium; 70.9g carbohydrates; 5.3g fiber; 6.6g sugar; 65.6g net carbs; 16.9g protein; 6.6 points.

Makes 1 1/2 cups

Silken tofu makes a smooth, rich-tasting mixture which can be used anywhere you would normally use sour cream, including cooking.

1 (12.3 oz.) boxes extra-firm SILKEN tofu
3 T. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
OPTIONAL: for a richer mixture, add 1-2 T. olive oil

Process in a food processor or blender until VERY smooth. Keep in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per 1/4 cup, without oil):
34.4 calories; 28% calories from fat; 1.1g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 114.1mg sodium; 96.8mg potassium; 2.1g carbohydrates; 0.1g fiber; 1.1g sugar; 2.1g net carbs; 4.2g protein; 0.8 points.

Makes about 2 and 1/4 c.

This is one of the most versatile and effortless sauces around, so don't be afraid to make this large amount. It can be used in a number of pasta dishes, and leftovers can be used in creamy soups and casseroles, to moisten stuffed baked potatoes or mashed potatoes, on vegetables..etc..

Combine in a blender:

3/4 c. cold water
6 oz. (1/2 a box) of extra-firm SILKEN tofu
2 T. dry white wine OR 1 1/2 T. water plus 1/2 T. balsamic vinegar or lemon juice
2 3/4 T. nutritional yeast flakes
1 T. cornstarch
3/4 T. "chicken-style" veggie broth powder
1 tsp. salt OR 2 T. light miso plus 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. garlic granules
OPTIONAL: 1 T. tahini

When the mixture is smooth, pour it into a heavy saucepan or a medium microwave-proof bowl. Whisk in:

3/4 c. hot water

Stir constantly over high heat until it comes to a boil. Turn down and simmer for a few minutes, until it thickens.

MICROWAVE OPTION: Pour the blended mixture into a large microwave-safe bowl. Cook, covered, on HI for 2 minutes. Whisk well and cook, covered, on HI for 2 more minutes, or until thickened. Whisk well.

TO MAKE SOY-FREE: Omit water (all 1 1/2 c. in total) and tofu. Instead, use 2 c. almond milk (the commercial type, such as Almond Breeze, is low in fat). Use 1 3/4 T. cornstarch instead of 1 T.. Use the salt, or use chickpea miso.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per 1/4 cup serving, without tahini; basic version):
23.9 calories; 16% calories from fat; 0.5g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 253.4mg sodium; 87.5mg potassium; 2.3g carbohydrates; 0.7g fiber; 0.3g sugar; 1.5g net carbs; 2.7g protein; 0.4 points.


Saturday, April 14, 2007


Best Blog Tips
The Chefs at the 2007 Vegetarian Awakening Conference in Grand Rapids, MI. Back Row, L to R: Derek Sarno, Chad Sarno, Tal Ronnen, Kevin Dunn, Sualua Tupolo. Front Row, L to R: Ian Brandt, Cathi DiCocco, Eric Tucker, Fran Costigan, and myself.

I wanted something simple but different for breakfast this morning. I love dosa--Indian crepes-- so I made an "instant" version (as opposed to a fermented batter, which is traditional) and we loved it! We had some with homemade plum chutney and some with a little Earth Balance. Other possibilities would be more traditional Indian chutneys, soy yogurt, soy creme cheese, grilled curried fruit, leftover veggies, scrambled tofu.... (For the recipe, wait for a new book coming out late in 2010!)

For cooking the dosa, you don't need any special cookware. Use a flat griddle or very shallow skillet. For the using the least fat, use a nonstick version, or, if you prefer, use hard-anodized cookware or good old-fashioned seasoned cast iron. This traditional 10.5" American cast iron round pancake griddle (available at Target for under $15) would do just fine:

Here's a Calphalon hard-anodized square 11" griddle for about $20:

(Target and many other stores have an array of different griddles and flat skillets that would work for dosa-- these are only examples of inexpensive possibilities.)

If you cook lots of dosa, here's an electric dosa tawa, sold in the USA and Canada!


Sunday, April 8, 2007


Best Blog Tips
Me (in my new chef coat from and Cathi DiCocco from Cafe DiCocoa in Bethel, Maine (Chef Eric Tucker of Millennium restaurant in San Francisco, in the background)

I'm back from the Vegetarian Awakening vegan chef's conference in Grand Rapids, MI, but with a bad cold, which is why I'm slow getting this posted! I will tell all in future blogs, with more pics from other participants. Suffice it to say, for now, that it was fabulous experience! Here are a few more pics:

Chef Kevin Dunn, the conference organizer, executing a tempeh recipe from Chef Ken Bergeron, who could not attend.

Chef Dunn making his own scrumptious Crème Brulée

Chef Tucker making his fabulous mushroom pâté

Raw Chef Chad Sarno showing off his three "fettucine" recipes and macadamia "cheese".

Cathi DiCocco and Chef Fran Costigan watching a demo

Four tired chefs at the airport ready to return home: Eric Tucker, me, Fran Costigan of New York, and Sualua Tupolo of the Atlantic Union College vegetarian culinary program.


We just had our family Easter dinner yesterday. It was potluck, with three of my kids and their families, my mother, and my sister and niece from Vancouver. It was pretty low-key, due to me being sick and just getting back, but we had a nice time. I made my seitan "ham" with "ham gravy", green salad, my orange and rosemary white beans, and the Italian rice salad (see recipe below), plus my vegan Key Lime Bars (have to see my subscription newsletter for all but the rice recipe, I'm afraid). One daughter brought a potato casserole, and another our traditional Italian Easter bread (you can see a picture here).

my seitan "ham"

Orange and Rosemary White Beans

My vegan Key Lime Bars UPDATE: The recipe is now on the blog here.


For a little treat I made these beautiful Rosewater-Pistachio Cupcakes from Isa Chandra Moskowitz's book "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World" (I made the glaze really pink):

I made them in my rose cupcake pans:


Printable Copy

Serves 8-12
From my book “Nonna’s Italian Kitchen”.

There are many, many versions of this delicious salad, some with a mayonnaise-type of dressing, some with a vinaigrette. I have combined vegetarian broth and roasted garlic with a small amount of olive oil in the salad dressing, to produce a creamy product with a fraction of the oil and all of the flavor.

This salad makes a wonderful late spring or summer luncheon dish, or can be the star attraction at a buffet or potluck.

2 1/2 c. light vegetarian broth (or use 2 1/2 c. water with broth cube or cubes meant for 2 c. liquid)
1 1/2 c. brown or white basmati or other long-grain rice (I used brown basmati)
NOTE IF YOU USE A RICE COOKER: If you use an electric rice cooker and choose the brown basmati, use 3 cups liquid.

Roasted Garlic Dressing:
1 head roasted garlic, squeezed out of peels
1/2 c. chickpea broth (aquafaba) or other vegetarian broth
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 c. cider vinegar or white wine vinegar (or white balsamic vinegar)
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly-ground pepper

Vegetables and Herbs:
1/2 lb. fresh asparagus, cut into 1" pieces OR 1 c. shelled fresh or thawed frozen petit pois (baby peas)
4 green onions, chopped
1 small jar marinated artichoke hearts, rinsed and sliced (or use half a 14 oz. can)
2 roasted red peppers , chopped, or equivilant from a jar of roasted peppers, rinsed (NOTE: if you have no red peppers, use a chopped green pepper and about 6 sundried tomatoes in oil, sliced)
2 stalks celery OR fennel, chopped
1/2 c. sliced pitted green Italian olives or pimiento-stuffed green olives
OPTIONAL: 2 T. capers
2 T. chopped Italian parsley or regular parsley
2 T. chopped fresh basil OR 2 tsp. dried

Optional Topping:
1/4 c. toasted pine nuts or slivered almonds

To cook the rice, bring the broth or water and broth cubes to a boil in a medium saucepan with a tight lid. Slowly add the rice in a stream, bring back to a boil, cover and lower the heat to almost the lowest heat. Cook 15 minutes for white rice, 30-45 minutes for brown rice. Fluff with a fork and let sit a few more minutes before scraping into a large salad bowl.

Meanwhile, steam the asparagus until crisp-tender, and rinse under cold running water to stop cooking. Drain very well. Prepare the other vegetables and herbs.

Blend the dressing ingredients together in a blender or mini-chopper until smooth. Toss with the warm rice and add the asparagus and remaining vegetables and herbs. Cover and refrigerate. Serve at room temperature, if possible, with the nuts sprinkled on top.

Happy Easter!