Tuesday, June 26, 2012


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This recipe is a slight variation on a recipe in my book "20 Minutes to Dinner" (now out of print, but you can still buy it).  I hadn't made these patties for a while and recently made them again for a quick, tasty meal-- I'd forgotten how much I liked them!

Originally I had designed this recipe to use up okara, the soy pulp left over from making soy milk or tofu, but the editors of my book thought (wisely, no doubt) that we should substitute crumbled frozen tofu for the okara because most people don't make their own soy milk or tofu, nor do we all have a tofu shop that sells it just down the street.  So, you have a choice-- okara or crumbled frozen tofu.

These "cakes" are very tasty, with a mild seafood flavor, and they are an excellent, down-home way to use up that last 2 cups of leftover cooked rice (and possibly okara). The plain ones make great "fish burgers", served on buns, but I've also included some exotic flavor options below. You can freeze any leftovers (the uncooked mixture, or the cooked patties) for future meals.

Printable Recipe
Makes about 20 patties

2 cups okara (pulp from making soy milk or tofu), drained well
(If you have no okara, you can use 2 cups of medium-firm tofu that has been frozen for at least 48 hours, then thawed, squeezed, dry and finely-crumbled. You can keep some tofu in your freezer for just such a purpose.)
2 cups cooked short grain brown rice (Be sure that it is short grain rice because that helps bind the patties together-- long grain is not sticky enough)
1 small onion, minced
6 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
2 tablespoons minced celery
1/4 cup unbleached flour (can be a GF flour mix) or pure gluten powder (Vital wheat gluten)
Blended Mixture:
4 oz. medium-firm tofu OR extra-firm SILKEN tofu(NOT frozen!)
2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce (low-sodium is fine)
2 tablespoons water or white wine
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon herbal salt OR 2 tablespoon miso
1 teaspoon kelp powder or 2 teaspoons dulse flakes
1/2 teaspoon each dry mustard powder and dried dill weed
freshly-ground black pepper to taste
pinch celery seed

Mix the okara (or crumbled frozen tofu), rice, onion, yeast and celery in a large bowl. Combine the Blended Mixture ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth. Add this to the bowl, along with the flour or gluten powder. Mix well with your hands. (You can make this ahead of time and refrigerate it until you are ready to cook the patties.)

Form the mixture into 20 thin patties. Brown in a nonstick skillet over medium-low heat with a little bit of oil (say 1 tablespoon) about 6 minutes per side, covering the skillet while cooking the first side. (THE MIXTURE CAN ALSO BE SHAPED LIKE "FISH STICKS", if you like, instead of patties.)

ALTERNATE COOKING METHOD: Place the patties on lightly-greased or nonstick cookie sheets and bake at 400 degrees F for about 7 minutes per side.

FOR A CRUNCHY OUTSIDE COATING ON THE PATTIES, coat the patties with Seasoned Coating Mix (below) OR Japanese panko breadcrumbs and use either cooking method. A GF coating option might be crushed whole grain puffed crispy rice cereal or corn flakes.

Serve the "fish cakes" alone or on buns with Vegan Tartar Sauce (below), ketchup, or chile sauce. (You can make chile sauce by mixing 1/2 ketchup and half tomato salsa.) 

Nutrition Facts for each pattie (shortened version-- will add full stats soon): 63 calories; 6 g protein; 1 g fat;8 g carbohydrates. 


1.) For Thai "Fish Cakes": Add 1 tablespoon fish-free Thai red curry paste, 4 cloves crushed garlic, 1/2 cup chopped green beans or peas. Top with a "Vinegar Sauce" of 1/2 cup rice vinegar or cider vinegar, 1/3 cup minced onion, 2 tablespoons tablespoons sugar, 2 tablespoons minced fresh basil or cilantro, 2 tablespoons grated carrot, and 1 small dried red chile, crushed.
2.) For Indian-Style "Fish Cakes": Add 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger, 2 tablespoons minced cilantro, 1 tablespoon minced fresh mint, 2 cloves crushed garlic, and a pinch EACH of curry powder, cayenne, tumeric, coriander, and red chile pepper flakes.
3.) For Cajun-Style "Fish Cakes": Add 1/2 cup minced green onion, 2 teaspoons Cajun Seasoning (homemade recipe here) and 2 crushed cloves of garlic.

**VEGAN TARTAR SAUCE: To 2 cups vegan mayonnaise (homemade low-fat  recipe here), add 3/4 cup minced raw onion or green onion and 3/4 cups minced dill pickle. Add pickle brine to taste, if you wish.  If you have no pickles, use chopped cucumber with a bit of dried or fresh dill weed and white wine vinegar to taste.


Mix together:
1 c. soft whole wheat breadcrumbs
1/4 c. cornmeal
2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. salt or herbal salt or seasoned salt (homemade recipe here)
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. ground sage
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried basil

Store in a container (with a tight lid) in the refrigerator.


Monday, June 18, 2012


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The other day my friend Holly brought me some of her "Ruby" rhubarb-- it's so beautiful--  makes your desserts look nicely pinky-red instead of green. I rejected making a pie-- not much time and even my low-fat crust gives DH heartburn (don't tell I said that in public!).  Since I had some apples that needed using up, I made a crisp combining the two, but I wanted to add a little "zing" to the dessert, so I added orange zest and juice, and some fresh mint.

For the oat topping, I used pecans instead of walnuts, but use whatever nuts you have around.  I use whole wheat flour and oil instead of margarine/vegan butter in my crisp topping-- nobody has ever noticed the difference and it's more nutritious that way.

The oat topping ingredients

It turned out very well, and the mint and orange did indeed perk up this old-fashioned stand-by.  A keeper, I'd say!

Servings: 8

3 medium    apples (about 1 lb.), scrubbed, cored and cut into 1/4" slices (soft ones are actually recommended here!)
6 cups    rhubarb slices-- roughly 2 lbs. (washed and sliced about 1/4-inch thick)  
2 Tbs    unbleached flour  
1 cups    light unbleached organic sugar  
   juice and grated zest of one large orange  
1/4 to 1/2 cup    chopped fresh mint  
1 cup    rolled oats  
3/4 cup    chopped pecans  
1/2 cup    wholewheat flour  
1/2 cup    brown sugar  
1/4 cup    oil  
1 tsp    cinnamon  
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Combine the apples, rhubarb, flour, sugar, orange juice and zest, and chopped mint gently in a bowl. Scoop into a 10-inch round baking dish or 12-inch-long oval baking dish. 

Rub the topping ingredients together in a small bowl with your fingertips until crumbly. Sprinkle over the fruit.

Bake for 40 minutes. Serve warm with your favorite nondairy vanilla frozen dessert, or vegan cream.

 Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 411.5 calories; 32% calories from fat; 15.3g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 11.7mg sodium; 530.3mg potassium; 68.4g carbohydrates; 7.1g fiber; 45.2g sugar; 61.3g net carbs; 5.1g protein; 8.7 points.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012


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Our vegan dinner group of 5 couples convened at our house last week for another great vegan meal. (We were also celebrating 3 Gemini birthdays-- me, DH Brian, and Rob.) It was a bit of a squish in our little house, but nobody minded-- it has been a while since we got together and even longer since we hosted a dinner.  On the menu, we had Fireweed's yummy vegan quiche with potatoes and veggies in it; a delicious lemony cauliflower and potato curry on yellow rice from Gordon and Sarah; Pelka's aromatic focaccia and wonderful green salad with Sunshine Dressing; and Ellen's beautiful wild rice salad with black beans. ( My contributions were two vegetable salads and a Chocolate/Almond Tiramisu for dessert.

I changed my plans for what to make for the dinner at the last minute because I thought we weren’t going to be enough vegetables on the menu.  (It turned out that we had plenty of veggies in the end, and it was all delicious.)  Because we live on an island, I had to use what was in my freezer, fridge and pantry, and inspiration was just not coming to me (probably due to the fact that I was trying to get the house spiffed up at the same time).  I turned to a book that I’d just borrowed from the library, “Fine Cooking in Season” (Tauton Press, 2011).  Two salad recipes jumped out at me because, not only did they sound delicious, but I had most of the ingredients, and with a little substituting here and there, I judged that I could make them- and make them vegan and lower in fat at the same time.

One recipe was a roasted corn salad with edamame (green soybeans), fresh mint and cherry tomatoes, in a basil/yogurt dressing with honey and lemon.  I had frozen sweet corn and frozen shelled edamame in the freezer, fresh mint in the garden, frozen basil paste from last year’s crop, and soy yogurt and agave nectar to use in the dressing.

The other recipe consisted of quickly-braised kale or Swiss chard, escarole or frisée, and spinach with roasted hazelnuts, in a dressing flavored plum preserves. I had hazelnuts, kale and spinach on hand, and figured that the rapini in the fridge could stand in for the escarole.  I had no plum preserves, but I did have some plum butter that I’d made last year from the plums on the wild plum tree near our back deck, and I figured that would do in a pinch. (Polish plum butter is available in some supermarkets, gourmet stores and online-- amazon carries it, too.)

In both recipes, I could substitute some of my lowfat oil substitute for some of the olive oil, in order to lower the fat content.  (The plum dressing called for a whole cup of oil!)

For the celebratory dessert I made a Chocolate/Almond Tiramisu, adapted from the tiramisu recipe in my book "World Vegan Feast", but, instead of the vegan sponge cake, I used the cake layers from the Mocha Cafe Latte Cake in the same book. Besides the boozy vegan mascarpone layer called for in that recipe, I added a layer of Italian Chocolate Mousse (from my book "Nonna's Italian Kitchen"), laced with ground roasted almonds. The whole thing was topped with my Almond Whipped Cream Topping, ground dark chocolate and slivered roasted almonds. (I used Kahlua for the liqueur.) 

There wasn’t much left at the end of the night, of either the salads or the dessert! All in all, another enjoyable evening with great conversation and company and excellent vegan food!  Here are my versions of the salad recipes (I also streamlined the methods a bit), just in case you's like to try them.


Serves 8
Adapted from a recipe in “Fine Cooking in Season” (Tauton Press, 2011).
For the plum vinaigrette:
5 Tbs. plum butter
1/4 cup apple cider or red wine vinegar
1 Tbs. Dijon-style mustard
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. chopped garlic
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
For the greens:
10 oz. baby spinach
1 bunch young kale
1 bunch rapini
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 cup (about 3 oz.) roasted, peeled hazelnuts, roughly chopped

Whisk together the plum butter, vinegar, and mustard until smooth. Add
the olive oil, broth and salt and pepper to taste; mix again briefly. Refrigerate in a jar or bottle. This can be made a few days ahead of time. Shake before using.

Stem the kale and slice it into strips about 1/4-inch wide. Cut the tough bottoms off the rapini stems and slice as for the kale. Mix all the greens, wash thoroughly, and spin dry. (If you prepare the greens ahead of time—1 to 4 days--wrap them loosely in paper towels and store refrigerated in sealed zipper-lock bags.)

In a very large sauté pan, stir-fry pan or skillet heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and add one-third of the greens, and a bit of salt and pepper. Sauté 1 to 2 minutes, stirring all the time, until the leaves are slightly wilted. Repeat twice with the remaining greens in two batches. Scoop the greens into a bowl and add the roasted hazelnuts and the dressing to taste.  Toss well and spread on a large serving platter. Serve at room temperature.

Serves 8-12
Adapted from a recipe in “Fine Cooking in Season”, Tauton Press, 2011.

2 cup frozen shelled edamame
1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
4 1/2 cups frozen sweet corn kernels, thawed, OR fresh corn kernels (from about 6 medium ears)
1/4 cup plain soy yogurt
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. agave nectar
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 heaping cups quartered cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup very thinly sliced fresh mint
1/2 cup very thinly sliced fresh basil OR a cube of frozen basil paste, thawed

Boil the edamame in water to cover by 2 inches for 4-5 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool completely.

Mix the corn kernels with 1 Tbs. of the oil on a large baking sheet. Spread the corn out on the sheet.  Place about 5 inches under the broiler of your oven and broil until the tops start to brown a little (about 4-5 minutes—watch carefully).  Remove from the oven.

To make the Dressing: whisk together the yogurt, lemon juice, agave, garlic, and 1/4 tsp. salt in a small mixing bowl. Slowly pour in the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil and the aquafaba or Fat-Free Oil Substitute for Salad Dressings, whisking constantly until blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

In a medium serving bowl, combine the edamame, corn kernels, tomatoes and herbs. Toss gently. Add the dressing and toss gently. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature.


Monday, June 4, 2012


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This dish was a happy accident that I threw together for a quick lunch the other day. DH went crazy over it—for good reason, if I do say so myself.  It is a very tasty mixture! 

Here's how it came about: I had some Soy Curls™ already reconstituted in the fridge (leftover from making another dish), and the asparagus and red bell pepper seemed like a good combination for both flavor and color. I had some huge garlic cloves that needed using, so I ended up with 1/4 cup chopped garlic and thought, what the heck, I’ll just dump all of it in—we like garlic! For the broth, I used some of the broth that the Soy Curls were soaked in (poured through sieve), and I had 2/3 cup of my homemade tofu sour cream leftover in the refrigerator.  I also had a bit of vegan mozzarella leftover from another dish.

Lastly, I still have frozen cubes of basil paste (see recipe below) that I made last fall and I am trying to use them up before I make this year’s batch, so I thought I’d throw in a cube of that. The ingredients seemed like a good combination to me.

Soy Curls™ soaking in vegan broth

I decided to broil the Soy Curls™ and veggies together with a little olive oil for three reasons— 1.) for convenience (no standing at the stove sautéing—you can prepare other ingredients, set the table, whatever); 2.) to get away with using only 1 tablespoon oil; and 3.) to add that “grilled” flavor to the dish.  I wanted to use a short pasta in the dish, and the package of bowtie pasta (or farfalle) in my pasta drawer (yes, I have a dedicated pasta drawer in my kitchen!) caught my eye. (It's pretty, has grooves to catch sauce in, and has a nice bite to it.)

The result was "Wow!"-- a flavor-packed and satisfying whole-meal dish that I'm going to use it as a template for future pasta combos. Other types of vegan protein could be used—seitan, for instance. Other vegetables could be substituted—mushrooms, broccolette, artichokes; sundried tomatoes, etc.  Onions of any sort (including leeks, shallots) could be used instead of, or in addition to, garlic. Other fresh herbs could be used instead of basil. Other varieties of short pasta could be used. You get the idea...have fun!

(can be GF or soy-free)
Serves 4

2 cups reconstituted Soy Curls™ (or other vegan chicken sub, such as commercial vegan "chicken" strips or "tenders", chicken-y seitan, etc., cut into thin strips) 
(NOTE: read more about Butler Foods Soy Curls  here.)
1 lb. asparagus (fairly thin stalks), tough ends cut off, stalks cut into 2-inch pieces 
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced       
1/4 cup chopped fresh garlic    
1 tablespoon olive oil 
kosher salt
12 ounces farfalle (bowtie pasta; can be whole wheat or GF)
1/3 cup vegan chicken-style broth (I like better than Bouillon Vegan No-Chicken Broth Base)     
1-2 tablespoons basil paste OR about 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil, packed
(NOTE: See Basil Paste recipe below. I used 2 tablespoons, or 1 cube, because it’s last year’s batch and, consequently, not as strong as a newer batch would be.]      
2/3 cup tofu sour cream (commercial or homemade) or cashew sour cream      
1/2 cup dry white wine (can be non-alcoholic)          
1/3 cup grated vegan mozzarella-style cheese           
1/4 cups Go Veggie!Vegan soy parmesan or other vegan parmesan sub 
freshly-ground black pepper to taste 

Set a large pot of salted water on the stove to come to a boil.

On a large baking sheet, mix the Soy Curls™ (or alternate), asparagus pieces, bell pepper slices and garlic with the olive oil and spread the mix out over the pan.  Sprinkle with a little bit of kosher salt. Place about 6 inches under your oven’s broiler and broil until the Soy Curls™ start to brown a little (this will probably take only about 5 minutes, so watch carefully).  Stir the mixture around and broil again until the asparagus is just tender when poked with a fork.  Remove from the oven and set aside.

While the Soy Curls™/veggie mixture is broiling, whisk together the sour cream and wine and set aside.  When the pot of water comes to a boil, add the pasta to the boiling water.  Boil until just tender (about 10 minutes). Drain in a colander and set aside.

Add the broth and basil paste or basil to a large skillet, stir-fry pan or wok.  Bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium. Add the wine/sour cream to the pan.  Whisk briefly and add the broiled Soy Curls™ and veggies, stirring well. Add the drained pasta to the pan, along with the two vegan cheeses.  Toss well, salt to taste, and grind plenty of pepper over the top.  Serve immediately.

 Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 551.8 calories; 16% calories from fat; 10.1g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 218.7mg sodium; 578.3mg potassium; 82.4g carbohydrates; 7.2g fiber; 4.8g sugar; 75.2g net carbs; 25.1g protein; 11.1 points.

Basil Paste frozen in ice cube trays: each cube= 2 tablespoons

Makes 1 1/2 cups (1 tsp. paste equals about 2 T. chopped basil.)
This is an easy way to prepare large quantities of basil for freezing, and it keeps the bright green color. You can make pesto with this paste, and I prefer doing this to making large quantities of pesto for freezing, because the flavors are better preserved.

In a food processor, blend the following ingredients to a paste:
8 c. loosely-packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
2 T. lemon juice
Method #1--
Pack into containers measuring the size you will use most often, or freeze in ice cube trays (placed inside plastic bags), then pop the cubes out into storage bags. One cube contains about 2 T. paste, so each cube is equal to about 2/3 c. of loosely-packed fresh basil leaves.
Method #2--
Spread the paste out thinly on sheets of waxed paper or heavy plastic wrap and then roll them up like jelly rolls. Pop the rolls into plastic bags and freeze them. Then you can unroll just a little at a time and break off small quantities to use in recipes that call for fresh basil.