Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Best Blog Tips New recipe for luscious Blueberry Vinaigrette (see below)

You can see over 100 color photos of many of the recipes in my new book, World Vegan Feastin this photo album.   There are now twenty-seven 5-star reviews of "World Vegan Feast" on amazon.com. 

Blueberries are one of the prides of the Pacific Northwest and there is a bounty of them available right now. Sure, we can freeze some, or make jam, but it's so wonderful to be able to simply eat all of the fresh ones you can hold! Although I am trying not to make tempting desserts right now, I was sorely tempted to make a luscious blueberry pie, but I decided against it in favor of a blueberry shortcake. (I didn't make both-- trying to reign in the calories!) Besides, we (sadly) hadn't had a shortcake yet this year (DH LOVES shortcake!). We also had a British friend over for lunch one day and she had never had real American-style shortcake with the hot biscuits-- as good an excuse as any to make it. We had vegetables for lunch so that the dessert could be the main attraction!

  Blueberry Shortcake with lemon juice and zest in the filling, along with organic sugar; a bit of corn flour in the shortcake, and my homemade Almond Cream Whipped Topping (recipe here) from my new book, "World Vegan Feast"

Because I am trying not to make desserts very often (so hard when there's all this fruit around and pie-making beckons!), I'm looking for savory ways to enjoy berries (besides adding them to salads). One night last week I had to make a super-fast meal, so I got some Gardein "Chick'n Breasts" out of the freezer (actually, they were President's Choice Blue Menu brand, from the Great Canadian Superstore, but Gardein makes them) and made a quick savory sauce that was as delectable as it was fast. (Other possibilities for  the protein part of this dish could be my Crispy Marinated Tofu Slices from World Vegan Feast, or "Breast of Tofu" from my other books, or your own or Chinese mock "chikn" cutlets.) Served it with stir-fried asparagus and snap peas, on a bed of bulgur wheat pilaf.

PS: I'm off to Portland for about a week-- I'll do the Nutrition Facts when I get home!

Printable Recipe

Serves 4
 (Other possibilities for  the protein part of this dish could be my Crispy Marinated Tofu Slices from World Vegan Feast, or "Breast of Tofu" from my other books (and recipe here, photos here), or your own or Chinese mock "chikn" cutlets.) 

4 frozen Gardein or PC Blue Menu (made by Gardein) "Meatless Chick'n Breasts" (see alternatives in recipe intro)
Cajun Spice or Old Bay Seasoning (homemade recipes for these here)
flour (unbleached or whole wheat)
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, minced
1/3 cup dry red wine (can be non-alcoholic)
1/2 cup vegan "chicken-style" broth
2 cups fresh blueberries
1 teaspoon grated organic lemon zest
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste

Rub the "breasts" with Cajun Spice or Old bay Seasoning all over, then dredge them in flour.  Heat the oil in a 10 to 12-inch nonstick skillet.  When hot, add the floured "breasts and brown them over medium-high heat on both sides.  Remove them from the skillet and add the onion and garlic, salting lightly.  Saute them until softened over medium-high heat, stirring often and adding a splash of water when necessary to keep from sticking.  (ALTERNATIVE METHOD:  While the "breasts" brown, place the onion and garlic in a microwave-safe casserole or Pyrex pie plate, salt lightly, cover and microwave for 5 to 7 minutes on High power-- or until they have softened.  Remove the "breasts" from the skillet and scoop the cooked onion and garlic into the same skillet. )

Add the wine to the skillet and cook over high heat until it has cooked down to about half its original volume.  Add the broth, blueberries, lemon zest and rosemary and tuck the "breasts" into the sauce.  Simmer over medium heat for about 5 minutes, turning the "breasts" once, until they are heated through and the sauce has thickened a bit.  Taste for salt and pepper.


I love berry vinaigrette and I wanted to make one with a hefty dose of fresh blueberries in it and not too much oil. I had read about a commercial blueberry and pomegranate vinaigrette, but I've never seen it around my neck of the woods, so I thought I'd add some pomegranate molasses to my recipe for extra tang (and antioxidants).  This one is delish!

Printable Recipe

Makes 2 cups

1 cup fresh blueberries
3/4 cup aquafaba or Fat-Free Oil Substitute for Salad Dressings
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
1 teaspoon salt
1 large clove garlic

Blend everything together in a blender until smooth. Place in a covered jar and refrigerate.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Best Blog Tips

 You can see color photos of many of the recipes in my newest book, World Vegan Feast, in this photo album.   (There are now thirty-five 5-star reviews of "World Vegan Feast" on amazon.com and amazon.ca.) 

A couple of weeks ago I started experimenting with veganizing some Spanish recipes-- beginning what will be an ongoing exploration of a neglected part of my culinary heritage. My first experiment was a Spanish meatball recipe-- well, Catalonian, actually. I had just about everything I needed to make it and it sounded delicious-- I love just about anything with wine and lemon zest. It utilizes a traditional Catalonian sauce component-- the "picada", which consists of bread, almonds, garlic and sometimes parsley and other seasonings. This cooking technique and the ingredients go all the way back to the Moorish occupation of Spain, from 711 to 1492. The words "albóndiga" (meatball) and "almendra" (almond) derive from Moorish words as do most, if not all, Spanish words beginning in Al, such as Alhambra.

This is interesting to me for various reasons-- one being that my father, who was Peruvian, looked quite Arabic, so much so that I'm sure his family had some Moorish blood dating back to those times. Maybe that's why I love Middle Eastern food and music so much.

My late father, Alejandro Jaime Urbina, shortly before he passed away-- still handsome.

This is what I came up with, slightly streamlined, and very delicious it was with homemade crusty bread to soak up the delicious sauce, and fresh green beans with tomato and garlic. (It is sometimes served with fried potatoes.)  I still want to tinker with it a bit, but it's certainly worth sharing even in this early form.

Printable Recipe

Serves 5

25 vegan "meatballs" (your favorite recipe [here's mine] or commercial brand-- here's a list of several)
unbleached white flour
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
The Sauce:
1 cup vegan "chicken" broth (I used Better than Bouillon "No-Chicken" base)
1 cup fruity dry white wine (dry reisling, Chablis, Chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, and many others)
a pinch of Spanish saffron
grated zest of 1 organic lemon
2 teaspoons sugar
The "Picada":
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) or dry white breadcrumbs
1/4 cup blanched, slivered almonds
3-4 cloves garlic, sliced
(some people add a bit of chopped parsley)
salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste
Sweet Spanish paprika (I used smoked sweet pimenton)

Roll the "meatballs" lightly in flour and brown them in a 12" nonstick skillet with the 1-2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat until crusty on all sides. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Wipe out the skillet and pour in the broth and wine; bring it to a boil. Add the saffron, lemon zest, and sugar, whisking. Add the "meatballs" and remove from the heat.

In a smaller (8-9") skillet, heat the 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the other "Picada" ingredients-- the breadcrumbs, almonds and garlic. Stir the mixture until it begins to turn golden, then take off the heat.

              Browned "meatballs" and picada ingredients.

 Grind the "picada" ingredients to a paste in a food processor and add it to the pan with the broth and "meatballs" and stir gently as it comes to a simmer. Turn the heat down, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes. If the sauce is too thick for your taste, add a little water. Taste for salt and pepper.

Serve the "albondigas" (meatballs in Spanish) with the sauce, sprinkled with the pimenton.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 363.2 calories; 30% calories from fat; 12.6g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 506.6mg sodium; 181.2mg potassium; 26.3g carbohydrates; 1.4g fiber; 3.9g sugar; 24.9g net carbs; 29.6g protein; 8.0 points.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Best Blog Tips

I've been working on this recipe for a few weeks and served it to friends Sunday night for dinner-- it was all eaten up by 4 of us!  You know that I've written about various types of kibbeh (here, and here in past posts (and there's another recipe in my new book), and what kibbeh is.  Most kibbeh is made from meat, but many varieties are made from potatoes, squash and other vegetables, along with bulgur and onions and spices.  I love kibbeh!  I wanted to make a vegan meatless variety that was quick and easy to throw together, so I chose to use Yves "ground Round", but you could use any vegan "hamburger crumbles", or even 2 cups of ground seitan.  It is very easy to make and it's best at room temperature, so it's fine-- better, actually-- to make it ahead of time.

I want to fool around with this recipe in future, perhaps adding dried fruit and or pine nuts, using a pomegranate glaze or sauce, layering with vegetables or lentils, etc. Any ideas?

My new Meatless Kibbeh with my lower-fat version of Taheena Sauce
Printable Recipe

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

 Servings: 6
 Best made ahead of time and served at room temperature.  PS: You can leave off the tomato/onion topping if you like and bake it covered with foil, if you like. 

2 cups    vegetarian "hamburger crumbles" (such as 1 pckg. Yves "Ground Round")  
1 medium    onion, cut into chunks  
1/2 cup    medium (#2) bulgur wheat, rinsed and drained  
4 oz    potato, peeled and grated  
2 tablespoons    soy sauce  
2 tablespoons    ketchup  
2 tablespoons    nutritional yeast flakes  
1 tablespoon    dried mint  
1 tsp    ground cumin  
1/2 tsp    salt  
1/2 tsp    garlic granules or powder  
1/2 tsp    cinnamon  
1/4 tsp    allspice  
   freshly-ground black pepper to taste  
   olive oil
Fresh tomato slices
thinly-cut onion rings

salt and freshly-ground pepper
olive oil
To accompany:
Taheena Sauce
Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Process the onion in a food processor until minced, then add the "hamburger crumbles" and process until it is a slightly finer texture. Mix this with the remaining ingredients (except the olive oil) together well in a large bowl with your hands.

Press the mixture into 2 qt. round or oval baking dish, sprayed with olive oil from a pump sprayer, and press it down gently and evenly.  (You can line the bottom with cooking parchment, if you like.) Spray the top with olive oil from a pump sprayer, or brush it on lightly. Cut the mixture carefully right through in a diamond pattern.

Top with the tomato slices and onion rings.  Add salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste, and drizzle with a little olive oil.

Bake for 1 hour. This loaf firms up as it cools and can be reheated. Loosen the sides with a table knife. Serve with Taheena Sauce.

 Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 148.5 calories; 5% calories from fat; 0.9g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 631.0mg sodium; 586.3mg potassium; 23.8g carbohydrates; 6.8g fiber; 3.3g sugar; 17.0g net carbs; 14.2g protein; 2.2 points. 


Thursday, August 4, 2011


Best Blog Tips

 The color of my Lucuma "Ice Cream" is not as orange as some I've seen-- maybe because it's made with the powder.
On August 19th of last year (2010) I wrote the following:
"Lucuma is a Peruvian fruit and, as many of you may know, my father was Peruvian. I remember lucuma ice cream from my three months in Peru as a six-year-old. Lucuma is a fruit with a quite dry texture, so it isn't eaten as a fruit, per se. Mostly it is used for a delectable, rich ice cream. Lucuma is rather sweet and has a butterscotch-y sort of flavor. When I was in Vancouver last, I found a store with Peruvian foods and bought some frozen lucuma puree-- what a coup, I thought!

... I worked out a recipe based on my vanilla gelato recipe made with Instant Clearjel, with the help of a (non-vegan) recipe from the internet. After splattering the kitchen with soy cream after a little accident (Mercury is in retrograde-- what can I say?), I made the mix and tasted it-- WAY too sweet!! I couldn't figure it out! My gelato is not as sweet as most, and I had used less sweetener than the non-vegan recipe called for (in relation to the volume of liquid, etc.). So, I got out my (new, under-used) reading glasses and read the small print on the bag of lucuma puree-- sugar! I had been assuming that it was unsweetened, since the label did not say "sweetened" and the recipes I found online all called for unsweetened puree. My mistake!

I tried diluting it with more soymilk-- still overpoweringly sweet! ... So, I started over and used no sweetener at all. It still tasted too sweet to me, but I know that when food is frozen, the sweetness is not as apparent, so there was hope. I stuck it in the freezer and hoped for the best, as I was hoping to take it to a family dinner with my sister and my mother on Friday-- they will remember this treat, too!

Last night I looked for unsweetened lucuma puree in Canada online-- no luck. But I did find lucuma powder. It seems that lucuma is all the rage in the raw foods community and is even used as a natural sweetener. I found some at a good price from this Canadian vendor, and ordered 2 lbs for future experiments!

BTW, lucuma is being called a "superfood", but I think this is somewhat of an exaggeration. It's true that it has lots of fiber and beta carotene, but, then, so do carrots! It is high in natural carbohydrates, so it was used by the Incas to provide energy, and evidently the trees are very prolific-- no wonder it was a popular food. Tasting sweet and butterscotch-y didn't hurt! I just feel that we should not go hog wild over exotic foods that are supposed to provide miraculous nutrients, when, in fact, we have foods at home that are just as good, more available, and much cheaper! For me, this is an exotic treat to relive some childhood memories.

Anyway, that said, we tried a bit of the ice cream when I was photographing it and re-packing it, and it is delicious! I will give you the recipe I used with the sweetened puree, but I plan to try it again with the lucuma powder and will report back!"

Well, I finally got back to that recipe yesterday, almost a year later, and I think I've got it!  I made this version with the lucuma powder, basing it on my Vanilla Gelato using Instant ClearJel, but I omitted the syrup in the recipe because lucuma powder is fairly sweet on its own.  I added a little more nondairy milk to compensate for the liquid in the syrup.  It's not as good as the original made with the fresh fruit, of course, but it's not overly-sweet, and you can really taste the "butterscotch-y" flavor of the lucuma. 

I hope you will try this vegan version of a popular Peruvian ice cream!

UPDATE:  See this post for take #3.


     Helado de Lucuma
    Servings: 10
Yield: about 5 cups

3 3/4 cups    soy milk, or almond milk (such as Almond Breeze Original)  
3/4 cup    raw cashews or cashew pieces, soaked in boiling water for 10 minutes and drained  
(if allergic to nuts, use 1/2 cup more nondairy milk, or soy creamer, and 1/4 cup oil)  
3/4 cup    unbleached organic sugar  
2/3 cup    lucuma powder  
1/2 tablespoon    pure vanilla extract    
1 tablespoon    Instant ClearJel®  (see Notes about this product below) OR 3/8 teaspoon Xanthan gum or Guar gum
3/8 teaspoon    salt 
Place the 3 3/4 cups milk into a blender along with the soaked, drained cashews, and blend until VERY smooth and frothy (make sure that it is not grainy at all).

Before freezing
Mix all of the remaining ingredients, into this mixture and blend again until it is VERY smooth.
Chill the gelato mixture thoroughly, and then freeze according to directions for your ice cream machine. Scoop into freezer container(s), cover and freeze for several hours before serving.
 Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 208.2 calories; 24% calories from fat; 6.1g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 125.9mg sodium; 68.1mg potassium; 34.1g carbohydrates; 0.3g fiber; 18.9g sugar; 33.7g net carbs; 5.0g protein; 4.6 points. 

The machine in action
Cooking Tips
A while ago, I started playing with my gelato recipe from my book "Nonna's Italian Kitchen ". I wanted to make it richer-tasting, easier to make, and with more servings. One of the things I did was to use Instant Clearjel® instead of the cooked tapioca flour mixture that I generally use (tapioca thickens the mixture instead of eggs, and it has better mouth feel than cornstarch). This eliminates cooking the starch mixture, which means the whole thing takes less time and it doesn't take so long to chill the gelato mixture before freezing. Another option is xanthan gum or guar gum, and I have given the amounts in the recipe.

In this recipe, DO NOT use the regular Clearjel® meant for making jam and pies and needs to be cooked.  Instant Clearjel® does NOT need to be cooked.  It is carried on amazon.comhoosierhillfarm.combarryfarm.com and King Arthur Flour for US customers. It has been available in Canada primarily from baking supply wholesalers, but,  good news for Canadians-- amazon.ca finally carries Instant Clearjel®! (Make sure you add a note to your order specifying that you want INSTANT Clearjel®.) According to their website, Gourmet Warehouse in Vancouver, BC carries it, too, but I'm not sure if they do mail order (their website is under construction right now).
For information about these thickeners, see
http://sharealikecooking.blogspot.ca/p/clearjel-page-clearly-best-thickeners.html (According to this source and others, Instant Clearjel® and Ultra Gel® are both NON-GMO.)

The machine in action just before stopping it.

Ready to pack into freezer containers
Ready to enjoy!