Monday, June 27, 2011


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This recipe came about due to a mistake.  We had company coming for dinner and I wanted to make a simple but elegant dessert.  My friend Holly had given us some beautiful jewel-red rhubarb and I knew I had some phyllo pastry in the freezer, so I thought I'd make a rhubarb strudel.  I took out the long box of pastry to thaw in the refrigerator that morning and didn't give it another thought. When baking time came, I mixed up the rhubarb filling ingredients (deciding to add a little mouth-watering-ly aromatic orange blossom water and a few almond slivers to it at the last minute) and set them aside and took out the box. And wasn't I surprised when it turned out to be puff pastry, not phyllo pastry (in my defense, the box looked just like the phyllo pastry box).  Okay-- just had to go with it at that point.  The result is this recipe and very nice it was, too! Many compliments and nothing left!

Printable Recipe

Servings: 6
Orange blossom water is distilled water that contains the essential oils of the orange blossom. It adds a hint of a citrus scent to foods and compliments the flavor of rhubarb and fruit superbly. A little goes a long way.

Note: Red Stalk Rhubarb varieties Include Canada Red, Macdonald, Valentine, Ruby, Crimson Wine and Cherry Red.

4 cups    thin slices of red stalk rhubarb (see Note above) 
3/4 to 1 cup    granulated light unbleached sugar  
1/3 cup    lightly-toasted blanched and slivered almonds  
2 Tbs    quick-cooking (instant or Minute) tapioca  
2 tsp    orange blossom (or orange flower) water 
(if you don’t have this, add a couple of teaspoons of grated organic orange zest instead)  
1 tsp    grated organic lemon zest  
1 sheet    dairy-free puff pastry dough, such as Pepperidge Farm (thawed out according to package directions)  
Place rhubarb in bowl and toss with sugar, almonds, tapioca, orange blossom water, and lemon zest; set aside.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

On a piece of baking parchment, cut to fit a small baking sheet, roll the pastry into a 12 x 12-inch square (more or less). Scrape the rhubarb mixture down the middle of the pastry, leaving about an inch free on each end. Spread the mixture out a bit, but not right to the edge. Bring the sides of the pastry up to overlap the rhubarb muxture a bit; then fold the far edges of each end piece in like a piece of gift wrap, and bring each end up and slightly over the rhubarb, pressing the edges of the ends and sides together a bit so that they don't come apart.

Shift the tart, still on the baking parchment, onto your baking sheet.

Fold another piece of baking parchment to fit over only the rhubarb, not the pastry (this helps cook the rhubarb faster). Bake the tart for about 20 minutes, or until it starts to turn golden. Increase the heat to 400 degrees F. (You don't want to bake it too fast at the beginning, because you don't want the pastry to be done before the rhubarb is cooked.) Bake for about 10 minutes longer, or until the rhubarb is bubbly and tender and the pastry is dark golden. Remove from the oven.

Cool the pan on a rack until time to serve. Cut into 6 pieces and serve with your favorite vanilla non-dairy "ice cream" or whipped topping.

 Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 394.4 calories; 44% calories from fat; 19.7g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 104.5mg sodium; 316.5mg potassium; 51.3g carbohydrates; 3.0g fiber; 26.7g sugar; 48.3g net carbs; 5.4g protein; 8.9 points. 


Monday, June 20, 2011


Best Blog Tips

The other day I got carried away revising some writing and didn't eat my usual breakfast (oatmeal with apples).  Come 11:30 I was starving!  But I didn't feel like having oatmeal at that point and there weren't any leftovers in the fridge (DH took them to work).  I remembered a type of potato patty that I had seen quite a while before and had placed on my mental list  to try veganizing-- I thought that this might be a good time to try it for "brunch".

In Arabic and Persian cuisines there is a type of thick baked omelet or fritatta that can utilize almost any vegetable (but always contains some green herbs).  It can be eaten hot or cold and is often used as a picnic food.  In Arabic it is called "eggah" ( عجة ʻaggah or ʻajjah) and in Perisan it is called "kuku" (کوکو).  According to food historian Alan Davidson, these are most probably the origin of Italian fritattas and Spanish tortillas (not the Mexican corn variety). 

Sometimes the mixture is made into small "pancakes" or "patties" and is shallow-fried in oil or clarified butter instead of baked.  This is the type of thing I wanted to try, but, of course, egg-free and made with only a little oil.  I also wanted to make the potato variety because it sounded nicely substantial and I thought the potato would help hold things together. (It can be made with eggplant, parsley and green onions, leeks, broad beans, spinach and other greens, cauliflower, squash...)  I decided to try a mixture of mashed tofu and chickpea flour instead of the egg.

My first effort actually worked! (Good thing, because I was really hungry by then!)  It was super simple to make and very tasty—open to alot of variation, too, so I will be playing with it further. I think the potato did help, but you could probably use less if it was baked—something for further experimentation.

I wasn’t sure what to serve with it, but rice sounded like a good idea and I did have some leftover brown basmati in the fridge. I read that yogurt and green herbs are usually served with these omelets, so I mixed up some plain Nancy’s soy yogurt with some of my homemade vegan low-fat mayonnaise (commercial soy yogurt is a bit sweet, so I wanted to add something more acidic) and mixed herbs. Unorthodox, perhaps, but tasty.  (I also tried it with some Peruvian Huacatay Sauce and that was good, too. (Homemade recipe here.)

The following recipe uses curry powder—not something you generally find in Persian cooking—which evidently is used in the potato pancakes made in the ancient city of Elam in southwestern Iran, according to the book Silk Road Cooking.

Makes 9 pancakes

2 large russet potatoes (1 lb. total)
8 ounces medium-firm tofu, drained and mashed
1/4 cup chickpea flour (besan)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons good-quality curry powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
freshly-ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
1 tablespoon olive oil for frying

Peel the potatoes cut them in half.  Steam them until they are just barely done (still a bit firm).  (Alternatively, you can microwave-steam the potatoes in a covered Pyrex casserole for 4 to 5 minutes, or are just barely done but still a bit firm.)  Cool the potatoes in the freezer while you gather the other ingredients, mash the tofu, etc..

Grate the cooled-down potatoes on a box grater into the mashed tofu in a medium bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Divide into 9 equal portions and form into patties.

Heat 1/2 tablespoon of the oil in a medium to large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Cook half of the patties for about 3 minutes per side, or until they are golden brown on each side, handling gently.  Repeat with the other 1/2 tablespoon olive oil and the rest of the patties.  Serve hot. 

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per 1 patty): 110.6 calories; 23% calories from fat; 3.0g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 217.8mg sodium; 414.5mg potassium; 17.5g carbohydrates; 1.6g fiber; 0.9g sugar; 15.8g net carbs; 4.5g protein; 2.1 points.


Monday, June 13, 2011


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I know-- I'm giving you a second yuba stew very soon after the first one!  (Read about yuba at this post, if you have no idea what I'm talking about!)  I think you'll forgive me when you taste it! (And it's even better the second day!) I'm on a bit of a yuba kick right now and I had a package left, and a yen to mess with a Peruvian recipe I've been developing (and veganizing) for a few years. (My father was Peruvian, Peruvian cuisine is very unique and delicious, and I have a long list of Peruvian recipes to veganize!)

The original is a Peruvian stew, served with rice, called Cau-Cau, usually made from tripe (sometimes seafood).  What is called the Creole version is simply tripe, sauteed onions, boiled potatoes, hot yellow peppers, turmeric, salt and pepper, and mint.  The Italian-Peruvian version is a bit more elaborate and appealed to me more (plus, my Peruvian grandmother was of Italian descent).  It contains some  tomato, mushrooms, wine or Pisco (Peruvian grape brandy), and, typically Peruvian, fried potatoes added at the end of cooking! (Peruvians often combine potatoes and rice in one meal-- the potatoes are indigenous; the rice was brought by the Spanish and is now ubiquitous. With a Peruvian father, we had rice at almost every dinner when I was growing up.)  I digress...

Why use yuba instead of the tripe (I won't go into what it actually is-- you can look it up!)? I've never actually tasted tripe, despite growing up with Peruvians and Italians around and eating meat for most of my life (been a vegan for about 22 yrs now).  Every country seems to have at least one tripe recipe that seems to be a cultural comfort food (such as the Mexican soup, Menudo).  Tripe is described as chewy and mild or subtle in flavor-- and that is how I would describe yuba!  Typically, tripe stews and soups around the world are spicy and flavorful, so why not use yuba instead and enjoy some old-world cooking?

 A package of yuba (bean-curd skin) sticks

I first thought of this when I was working on my Chinese vegan cookbook and veganized a traditional tripe recipe with a delicious sauce.  Ever since, I have been on the lookout for traditional recipes to further utilize yuba, which is a favorite food of mine. I hope you will try and enjoy this one!

A thought: In some cultures, a related product called chitterlings (or chitlins) is  used in traditional "comfort foods".  I have never tasted them either, but have read that they have a similar taste and texture to tripe, so maybe yuba could be used in some of those traditional recipes, too?

Serves 6
Serve this spicy stew  with steamed brown basmati rice. This dish is even better reheated the next day! NOTE: Often, fried potatoes are added to this stew, but I opted for cubes of raw potato cooked in the stew, similar to the Creole version (see text above). (See the link in the ingredient list below for where to buy yuba sticks online, or try an Asian grocery store.  Read the yuba info at the 2nd link below for how to ask for it in a Chinese market.)

7 oz. package of yuba (Chinese bean curd skin) sticks (see info about yuba here)
juice of 1 lemon
2 T. olive oil
2 large onions, thinly sliced
3 large cloves of garlic, crushed
1 red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced small
1 1/2 c. water
2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/2” cubes
1 c. frozen peas
1/2 c. dry white wine (or dry white vermouth)
1/3 c. tomato paste (1/2 small can)
1-2 T. aji amarillo paste  (Peruvian hot yellow chile paste) or Sriracha sauce
1 large bay leaf
2 teaspoons vegan bouillon powder or paste, or enough cubes for 2 cups broth
1/2  T. dried mint (or 2 T. chopped fresh)
1 tsp. salt
1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, soaked for 1/2 an hour in boiling water (use mushrooms and strained soaking water in stew)
            OR use 1 tsp. dried porcini mushroom powder
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. tumeric

Soak the yuba in a large bowl of hot water for about 2  hours.  Drain the yuba, squeeze gently to remove as much water as possible, and cut the yuba into 1” pieces.  Mix them in a bowl with the lemon juice.  Set aside.

Heat the oil in a large pot.  Add the onions and stir-fry over medium-high heat until the onions are softened and slightly browned.  Add the garlic, carrot and bell pepper.  Stir fry until the pepper softens a bit.

Add the remaining ingredients, including the yuba.  Bring to a boil, then lower the heat. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes. 

 Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 311.9 calories; 35% calories from fat; 12.9g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 541.6mg sodium; 662.2mg potassium; 28.8g carbohydrates; 4.9g fiber; 11.2g sugar; 23.8g net carbs; 21.6g protein; 6.5 points.


Thursday, June 9, 2011


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Lunch on the deck yesterday
Nothing spectacular this week (we're trying to get our garden in and do some hardcore cleaning and organizing in the house!).  I'm working on some interesting stuff for future blogs, though! It was a beautiful day yesterday (unlike today!), so we ate out on the back deck, shaded by our wild plum tree. The menu was simple-- a salad and  Ryvita crackers with Tofu Eggless Salad.

For some reason I was craving "Egg" Salad-- not always my favorite food as an omni.  I have a recipe from one of my first books, but I improved on it a few years ago, and I had a further idea to improve it yesterday.  Below is the result, and I was quite happy with it.  We had it on rye crackers, but it's delicious in raw bell pepper "cups", on celery sticks or cucumber rounds, on firm, dark pumpernickel bread squares (see my homemade dark Dutch pumpernickel recipe), or in sandwiches (firm white bread with the crusts cut off?).

Our salad was a version of one I found on the internet, using up some veggies that needed using-- asparagus, broccoli, and radishes.  It's supposed to serve 3 people, but the 2 of us ate the whole thing!


I decided to use extra-firm silken tofu instead of medium-firm regular tofu, but instead of mashing all of the tofu, kept back 3/4 cup (1/2 a box) of it and cut it into tiny cubes to give the texture of hard-cooked egg whites.

Printable Recipe

Servings: 12
Yield: 3 cups
This is delicious not only on sandwiches, but on crackers and celery sticks. It is also good in stuffed small tomatoes or wide strips of raw bell pepper.

18.45 oz. (1 1/2 boxes)    extra-firm silken tofu  
2/3 cup vegan mayonnaise (I use my Low-fat Eggless Mayonnaise, but you can use Reduced-Fat Veganaise or Spectrum Naturals Eggless, Vegan Light Canola Mayonnaise instead)  
1 green onion, finely-minced  
1 stalk celery, finely-minced  
1 1/2 tablespoons    nutritional yeast flakes  
1/2 tablespoon    cider vinegar  
1/2 tablespoon    turmeric  
3/4 teaspoon    salt  (or Indian "black salt" for a more "egg-y" flavor)
1 teaspoon    sugar  
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice  
1/4 teaspoon garlic granules  
1/4 teaspoon onion powder  
1/4 teaspoon    paprika  
1/4 cup    hand-chopped red bell pepper  
1/2 teaspoon dried dillweed OR 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh dillweed  
  OR whatever herbs and seasonings take your fancy!  
Open and drain the tofu. Crumble 1 box of tofu (12.3 ounces) into a bowl and mash coarsely with a fork. Cut the remaining tofu into 1/4" cubes and set aside.

Add the remaining ingredients (EXCEPT for the tofu cubes) to the mashed tofu and fold until well-combined. Fold in the tofu cubes and mix gently. Cover and refrigerate. The mixture firms up when chilled.

        Nutrition Facts (using my homemade Low-fat Eggless Mayonnaise):
Nutrition (per 1/4 cup): 52.5 calories; 43% calories from fat; 2.6g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 233.9mg sodium; 128.8mg potassium; 3.5g carbohydrates; 0.6g fiber; 1.1g sugar; 2.8g net carbs; 4.2g protein; 1.1 points.
        Nutrition Facts Using Reduced-Fat Vegenaise:
Nutrition (per 1/4 cup): 73.0 calories; 63% calories from fat; 5.5g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 231.3mg sodium; 118.4mg potassium; 3.2g carbohydrates; 0.5g fiber; 1.1g sugar; 2.7g net carbs; 3.9g protein; 1.8 points.
        Nutrition Facts using Spectrum Naturals Eggless, Vegan Light Canola Mayo:
Nutrition (per 1/4 cup): 63.8 calories; 57% calories from fat; 4.1g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 203.8mg sodium; 118.4mg potassium; 3.2g carbohydrates; 0.5g fiber; 1.1g sugar; 2.7g net carbs; 3.9g protein; 1.5 points.
I veganized this recipe and cut the oil down from 3 tablespoons to 1 tablespoon. I had no shallots, so I used green onions and garlic instead, and no pine nuts, so I used toasted hazelnuts (and I used 1/2 cup instead of 1/4 cup). Very tasty!

Printable Recipe

 Servings: 3
 Adapted from a recipe from

12 spears thick asparagus, sliced diagonally about 3/8" thick  
5-6 broccoli florets, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces  
1 Tbs olive oil  
1 1/2 Tbs fresh lemon juice  
1/4 tsp salt  
1 clove garlic, crushed  
2 green onions, chopped  
3 Tbs aquafaba or oil substitute for salad dressing  
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted, and coarsely chopped  
5-6 medium    radishes, washed trimmed and very thinly sliced  
  zest of one lemon  
OPTIONAL: Parmesan sub  (Go Veggie!Vegan or Parma! or Parma Zaan Sprinkles or my homemade okara/nut/miso version)

Wash the asparagus and broccoli well and set aside. Make the dressing by whisking together the lemon juice, salt, garlic and oil sub. Set aside.

To cook the asparagus, place the olive oil in a large skillet or wok over high heat. When the pan is hot add the asparagus and broccolini. Toss well , adding a sprinkle of salt. Stir-cook add a squirt of water now and then to keep from drying out (I use a squirt-type water bottle for this). You don't want to overcook the vegetables here, they should be bright and with a bit of bite to them. 

When the vegetables are cooked, remove them from the heat and stir in the hazelnuts, green onions, radishes and lemon zest. Taste; add a bit of salt if needed. Toss with the dressing.

Turn everything out onto a platter and finish with some Parmesan sub (see suggestions in ingredient list).

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 191.9 calories; 72% calories from fat; 16.3g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 170.0mg sodium; 410.1mg potassium; 9.9g carbohydrates; 4.0g fiber; 2.9g sugar; 5.9g net carbs; 5.5g protein; 4.4 points.