Sunday, April 24, 2011


Best Blog Tips

As you probably know from reading this blog, our casual "vegan dinner group" of 5 vegan Denman Is. couples gets together every now and then to share good vegan food, wine, companionship and conversation. Last night we had a fabulous vegan Easter/Spring dinner. It had an Italian theme this time. (Unfortunately, on couple could not make it-- we missed you, Rudy and Ellen!)

Here are some pictures:

My contributions: 
My seitan ham and Squash and Cranberry Mostarda 

Squash and Cranberry Mostarda-- the only changes I made in the recipe were white wine vinegar instead of champagne vinegar, and kabocha squash instead of butternut. I wanted to make a mostarda to make my seitan "ham" fit better with the Italian theme. A mostarda is an Italian relish-- sweet and spicey-hot-- that is usually made with a variety of dried fruits.  I only had dates, raisins and cranberries in the house.  I went looking on the internet for something mostarda-like that I could make with what I had around, and found this great recipe, which was delicious with the "ham".  It would be good with smoked tofu, too!

 My seitan "ham"

My crusty artisan no-knead bread baked in pots

Smaller version of Pastiera Napolitana Vegan (Neapolitan Easter Grain & "Ricotta" Pie)-- see recipe and better pictures at this blog post. My pictures of the cut pie I made for last night did not turn out.  here's a photo of a slice of the larger-sized pie I made last year:
Last night we had some of Pelka's organic frozen strawberries with the pie.



Sarah and Gord's wonderful spring greens salad with baby green beans, zucchini, arugla, and tomatoes in a lemon, garlic and olive oil dressing-- couldn't stop eating it!

Pelka's Fennel and Mushroom Pasta in Cashew Cream sauce-- delish!

Pelka's terrific kale with pine nuts

My bread with a bowl of Fireweed's delicious olive spread to slather on it!

Fireweed's gorgeous  and mouth-watering stuffed portobello mushrooms with asparagus.

Everyone except DH, who took the picture, ready to toast and eat!

Thanks to Pelka and Rob for hosting us!

Have a wonderful holiday ushering in Spring!

Monday, April 18, 2011


Best Blog Tips

 Apple/Pecan Crumb Cake with Gianduia Drizzle  Gianduia (pronounced "jahn-DOOya") is the original of Nutella®, BTW. 

I haven't blogged dessert for some time, but last night we had an old friend visiting from Vancouver, which I thought was as good an excuse as any to make a dessert! But I didn't want it to be too rich, and I wanted it to be quick and easy, and made with whole grain flour(s). I decided that apples and pecans would be nice, and I also wanted to add just a little chocolate. I turned to the recipe in my book "The Fiber for Life Cookbook" for Rustic Rhubarb Cake and tweaked it once again. It was really moist and delicious, and a little more elegant than the original. Just a nice little touch of chocolate. (I think it would work with a gluten-free flour mix, too.) Our friend Brenda, not a vegan, just loved it and took some home with her. She had no idea that it was made from whole grain flour.

Printable Recipe

makes 1/ 9x13" cake / 12 servings

This cake is just fine served a little warm, and it 's even good for breakfast! The cake itself is quite low in fat, and you can cut down the pecans to 1/4 cup, if you like.

1 and 3/4 cups wholewheat pastry flour PLUS 1/4 c. oat bran
        OR 2 cups wholewheat pastry flour

Tip: I think this recipe would work with a reliable gluten-free flour mix, too.
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground ginger

1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 cups chopped apples (I don't peel them if they are organic)
1/3 cup smooth unsweetened applesauce
3 Tbs. oil
1 cup unbleached organic granulated sugar
7/8 cup nondairy milk

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup chopped pecans
about 1/2 cup Gianduia (chocolate/hazelnut spread) for drizzling (UPDATE: If you can't find a vegan and palm oil-free brand of this spread, there's an easy vegan recipe for this spread on my blog here and it's also on p. 65 of my book "World Vegan Feast".)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x13" cake pan.

Whisk together the Dry Mix ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Stir in the apples. In a blender or with  hand/immersion blender, blend the Wet Mix ingredients until smooth. Mix the Wet Mix into Dry Mix, stirring as briefly as possible. Spread into prepared pan. Mix the Topping ingredients together in a small bowl. Sprinkle the Topping evenly over the cake. 

Bake 35 minutes. Test for doneness. Cool on a rack.

Scoop the Gianduia (Chocolate/Hazelnut Spread) into a small heat-proof bowl. 

Place the bowl in a larger bowl and add very hot water to the outer bowl.  Let it sit until the spread is a bit runny.  Scrape the spread into a small food-safe squeeze bottle.  Squeeze a thin line of chocolate spread in whatever way you like it, but not too much!

 Serve right out of the pan, cut into squares.

 Nutrition Facts Nutrition (per serving): 384.0 calories; 39% calories from fat; 16.9g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 13.8mg sodium; 182.0mg potassium; 56.0g carbohydrates; 4.8g fiber; 39.0g sugar; 51.2g net carbs; 3.9g protein; 8.3 points.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Best Blog Tips

The second offering in my intermittent meatless loaf "series", recipe below.

  Blossoms we used for my Mom's memorial, from my cousin Chris's house in Vancouver.

I'm sorry to be late with this weekly blog post (can't do more than that right now-- book edits!) We just returned home from Vancouver, where we had a memorial for my late mother, Eve Tonge Urbina. It was a good occasion, with laughter as well as tears, lots of family, and some friends I hadn't seen for many a year.  It was a family project: My sister Karin and her husband Allen planned it from the other side of the water, and I did the notifying and a photo slide show from my side.  Our cousin Chris and his partner Roxanne hosted and chauffeured us, and provided their house for a family gathering in the evening. Our cousin Denis acted as our host and "MC" (for want of a better term), and organized the obituary notice (which my sister wrote):

"Evelyn (Eve) Tonge Urbina of Courtenay, B.C. died Friday, January 21, 2011 at the age of 93, surrounded by children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Born in Sausalito, California, November 3, 1917, and later a resident of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California, and Vancouver, Denman Island and Courtenay, B.C., she was a product of a gifted and very interesting family of native Californians.

She was a wonderful artist and an open-minded lover of all the arts.  Her sunny, exuberant personality and unconventional and compassionate nature drew people to her like a magnet.  She brought her passion for living and for social justice to everything she did."

Mom, age 92.
We heard some stories about my mom, including some memories of her from my Uncle Ken, who, at 81, was my mom's "baby brother". He related a moving and loving memory of my mother in her role as big sister (she was 17 and he was 5) during one time in their family's struggles during the Great Depression of the 1930's. My cousin Phil, my stepson Laurence, and my youngest daughter Justine both spoke movingly of their memories, and their respect and love for my mother.  Even DH bravely told a funny story about Mom, despite his great dislike of public speaking.

We also acknowledged that this was the end of an era-- Mom was the last of her generation on her side of the family, predeceased by her bother Gilbert Tonge and his wife Charlotte,  Mom's sister Jonnie Rankin and her husband Harry Rankin, and by my father, Alejandro Jaime Urbina. They were not only relatives, but friends and compatriots.

In back, Meghan M. & Brian's son Laurence; front L to R: my cousin Chris & partner Roxanne; me & DH Brian after a delicious dinner at the Whole Vegetarian (formerly the Bo Kong) Chinese Buddhist vegetarian restaurant on Main and 14th in Vancouver.  (Photo taken by a friendly diner at a nearby table.)
My BIL Allen (back to camera), SIL George, and my youngest grandson (back to camera) talking to my stepson Laurence as we were setting up.

When I finish my edits, I have lots of scanning of old family photos and interesting documents to do, so that we can share them with the whole family. We do come from an interesting family!


Before I sign off, here's the 2nd in my meatless loaf "series", which began with the Low-Fat Vegan Onion "Meatloaf".

Can be GF  
Makes 1/ 10” round loaf or one 9x5” rectangular loaf/Serves 6       

From my book "The Fiber for Life Cookbook". Most concentrated vegetarian protein foods (except legumes) are not very high in fiber, so I have adapted this loaf to add more fiber. It’s really delicious and open to lots of experimentation with seasonings.  

2 cups boiling water
vegetarian bouillon cubes, powder or paste-- enough for 4 cups broth
1/2 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 cups textured soy protein granules (TSP or TVP granules)
1/2 cup oat bran
1/2 cup wheat bran (or rice bran)
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or roasted (Asian) sesame oil
tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
1 teaspoon EACH garlic granules, onion powder, and dried thyme (or other herb of choice)
freshly-ground black pepper to taste
TOPPING:  ketchup, tomato sauce, or barbecue sauce; or any other glaze that you prefer

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, dissolve the bouillon in the boiling water.  Add the ketchup and soy sauce.  Add the soy protein (TVP) and let stand 5-10 minutes, or until the liquid is all absorbed.  Add the remaining ingredients, except the Topping.  Mix well.  Pack into an oiled 10” shallow glass casserole, or a 9x5” loaf pan.  Spread the Topping sauce over the top evenly.  Bake for 45 minutes.  This is good cold or hot, and makes great sandwiches!

I hope you enjoy it!

Monday, April 4, 2011


Best Blog Tips

NOTE: Okara is the Japanese term for the pulp leftover from pressing cooked soybeans and water for  soymilk or tofu.  If you don't make your own soymilk or tofu, but you live near a tofu shop, you might be able to purchase it fresh. There are some ideas for subs in the recipe.

Other Okara recipes on this Blog:

A FB friend requested yesterday: "Can you point me to a fail-proof recipe for some kind of waffle using fresh okara??? ty ~"  As I have said before, I only create recipes on request if they really interest me!  Another requirement is that I have the ingredients on hand, and I did happen to have some fresh okara in my fridge. I'm always up for improving on a vegan waffle (without adding a whole lot of oil!), making it healthier, or crispier, or using interesting ingredients.  Examples?  Vegan Waffles Made with Seltzer Water! , vegan whole grain sourdough waffles, and Orange-Pecan Cornmeal Waffles (made with beans!).  Okara waffles sounded good to me. (Okara is the pulp left over from making soy milk or tofu.)

All of the above waffle recipes are good, BTW. I have several versions of the bean waffle recipe, and that is my favorite because it's easy, light and crisp, and totally made from whole grains!  My first instinct was to start with that type of recipe, since it seems to be very accommodating. So I tried the simplest version, made with oatmeal (the recipe is in my book "The Fiber for Life Cookbook").  I substituted 1 cup okara for the 1/2 cup dry beans used in the original recipe.  (These are soaked overnight.)  The batter was quite thin and the waffles were tasty, but not very substantial, and not as crispy as the bean waffles.  I tried them with more oats, and then more okara, but ended up ditching that experiment.

I had developed a recipe for a light, crisp vegan "buttermilk" waffle for my now-defunct Vegan Feast newsletter some years ago, and haven't published it anywhere else yet. I worked on this recipe for many weeks.  I was aiming at a more traditional recipe, veganized, which would include at least some whole grain flour and less fat than usual.  One vegan recipe I saw contained cornstarch for crispness (and 6 tablespoons of oil for 5 four-inch waffles), but cornstarch isn't very nutritious, so I tried using some corn flour instead, which worked well.  Then I looked at the labels of some pancake/waffle mixes and saw that they include corn flour and rice flour!  So I added some brown rice flour, too. This worked very well, and the recipe turned out to be very versatile as far as using various whole grain flours.  Anyway, I digress.

I decided to re-work this recipe to see if I could add fresh okara to it.  This took some "finagling", as my mother used to say, due to the liquid content of the okara, but the final result was excellent! Now I have another way to use okara-- thank you, Angela!

NOTE: I use a round Cuisinart Traditional waffle iron (pictured above), NOT a Belgian waffle maker. Other waffles irons recommended by Cooks Illustrated magazine are:  Chef’s Choice WafflePro Express; Cloer Double Waffle Maker; Cuisinart 6-Slice Traditional Waffle Iron.
Printable Recipe

Servings: 6
Yield: 6/7-inch round waffles or 12/4-inch square waffles

If you want to make this entirely with whole grain flours, the following mixture worked well in my original Vegan “Buttermilk” Waffle recipe, so you could try substituting it for all of the flours in this recipe: 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour, 1/3 cup oat flour (grind oatmeal in a dry blender or clean, dry electric spice/coffee grinder), 1/4 cup corn flour, and 4 teaspoons brown rice flour. (I haven’t tried this yet with the okara version.)

I also have a favorite variation, Orange/Cranberry/Pecan, of the original recipe in which I use some orange juice instead of the lemon juice in the “Buttermilk”, and I add grated orange zest (at least one whole orange!) and add 1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped,  and 1/4 cup chopped pecans to the batter.

Vegan "Buttermilk" 
1 tablespoon    lemon juice   
1 cup + 7 tablespoons    nondairy milk  
Vegan "Eggs":   
1/2 cup    water  
2 tablespoons    egg replacer powder  (Orgran or Ener-G)
2 tablespoons    golden flax seed, ground to a powder in a dry coffee/spice grinder  
2 tablespoons    organic sugar  
Dry Mix:
3/4 cups    white pastry flour (do not use all-purpose flour)  
3/4 cup    whole wheat flour  
   ( OR use 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour and 3/4 cup unbleached white all-purpose flour)  
1/3 cup    corn flour (NOT cornstarch! See Cooking Tip below)  
3 tablespoons    brown rice flour  
1 teaspoon    baking powder  
1 teaspoon    salt  
1/2 teaspoon    baking soda (press through a fine tea strainer with the baking powder to eliminate lumps)  
Wet Mix:  
Vegan "Buttermilk" (above)  
1 cup    fresh okara (not super-squeezed)
(Okara is the pulp left over from making soy milk or tofu.  S
ubs might be:  #1] says that a substitute for okara would be firm  tofu, finely-crumbled.   For this recipe I would probably moisten it with a little water because the okara I use is not dry.  #2] For soy-free, drained and rinsed cooked or canned chickpeas ground, but with some texture, should work-- you might have to moisten them a bit. White beans would be too soft, I think. (Disclaimer- I haven't tried these subs!)
1/4 cup    oil  
1 teaspoon    pure vanilla extract  
1.) Plug in your waffle iron to heat. Nonstick waffle grids are best, and just a regular waffle iron with medium-sized grid is best, rather than a deep Belgian waffle type, or one with a very small grid.  ( I use a round Cuisinart TraditionalOther waffles irons recommended by Cooks Illustrated are:  Chef’s Choice WafflePro Express; Cloer Double Waffle Maker; Cuisinart 6-Slice Traditional Waffle Iron.

2.) Mix the Vegan "Buttermilk" ingredients and set aside.

3.) For the Vegan "Eggs", beat the water and egg replacer with a hand/immersion blender until thick and frothy. Add the ground flax and beat for a minute or 2. Set aside.

4.) Mix together the Dry Mix ingredients in a bowl with a whisk. Set aside.

5.) For the Wet Mix, combine the "buttermilk", okara, oil and vanilla with a whisk.

7.) Whisk the Wet Mix into the Dry Mix just until mixed. Scoop the "egg" mixture over this and fold in with a spatula, using an over and under motion until you can no longer see the "egg" mixture.

8.) Spray the waffle iron (top and bottom) with oil from a pump sprayer each time you make a waffle. For 4" waffles, I use a 1/3 cup of batter for each one and spread it out evenly. For the 7" round one I use a scant 2/3 of a cup of batter and spread it out evenly, but not right to the edges. In my waffle iron that makes 2/ 4" square waffles, , 7 minutes seems to be the optimum cooking time; in the other—the Cuisinart Traditional round one--  6 minutes on setting #3 seems the best.

9.) Loosen gently and lift the waffles out with a fork. Serve hot immediately, or place in a 200°F. oven on a rack to keep warm and crisp until needed (not for too long, or they’ll dry out!). Freeze leftover (cooled) waffles and toast them for a quick breakfast or snack!

10.) Serve on warm plates with vegan butter (or oil-free butter-y spread) and warm maple syrup or brown rice syrup, or fruit sauce, or whatever your favorite topping happens to be. Yum!

 Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 311.2 calories; 33% calories from fat; 11.8g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 452.8mg sodium; 337.4mg potassium; 46.0g carbohydrates; 4.3g fiber; 6.0g sugar; 41.7g net carbs; 6.9g protein; 6.4 points.

Cooking Tip
Corn Flour is very finely-ground yellow cornmeal-- ground almost to a powder. You can do this in small amounts in a dry, clean electric coffee/spice grinder. Or you can purchase it (sometimes organic) at a health food store or South Asian market.