Sunday, December 22, 2013


Best Blog Tips
I'm afraid won't be posting until after December 27th-- company coming and too much work to be done!  But I'm offering you...

(Oh, and don't forget last-minute holiday recipes here.) 

I'd like to thank each and every one of you for your enthusiasm and support!

Thursday, December 12, 2013


Best Blog Tips

***Just in case you need another goodie to make over the holidays, here's a yummy one from my old newsletter, The Vegan Feast.***

 Makes 32 squares

Brownie Batter:
6 tablespoons oil
6 tablespoons hot water
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup Dutch Process cocoa powder (unsweetened; organic fair trade if at all possible )
4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons grated organic orange zest (orange part only)
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons flax seeds
2 tablespoons Ener-G or Orgran egg replacer powder
1 cup whole wheat flour (not pastry flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
 Cheesecake Swirl:
1 (12.3 oz.) box extra-firm silken tofu
1/3 cup raw cashew pieces, soaked in boiling water to cover for at least 10 minutes and drained
6 tablespoons organic granulated unbleached sugar
2 tablespoons soy or other plain nondairy milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch (can be organic)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Grease a Pyrex 9 x 11” baking pan (the glass pan keeps the brownies from burning, since they have to cook longer in this recipe than normal) with Cake Release—here’s my homemade palm oil-free version.

In a small saucepan, mix the oil and 6 tablespoon water gently over medium heat.  Stir in the sugar until dissolved, then whisk in the cocoa, vanilla and orange zest.  Set aside.

Place the 1/2 cup water, flaxseeds and egg replacer in a blender.  Blend the mixture at high speed for several minutes, until it is “gloppy” like slightly beaten egg whites, with little brown flecks of flax skin throughout.  Fold this into the cocoa mixture.

In a small bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Add the flour mixture to the cocoa mixture and stir briefly.

Spread brownie batter in the prepared baking pan.

To make the Cheesecake Swirl mixtureplace the filling ingredients (make sure that the cashews are soaked and drained as directed) in a food processor and blend until very smooth (be patient).  

Drop the mixture in small “blobs” evenly spaced over the brownie batter.  Swirl the mixture through the top of the brownie batter with a table knife, as artistically as you can.  Bake for 35 minutes. 

Cool on a rack, then cut into 32 squares with a sharp serrated knife.


Thursday, December 5, 2013


Best Blog Tips
Potato Tortino with Rapini

New Mushroom-Barley Soup

We've been having a nice stretch of cold, but quite sunny, weather lately, but today we had a little snow, too!  (Our "grand-dog", Skeena, a 15-year-old Malamute who has been staying with us for a few days, has been loving the snow.) The two dishes that I made yesterday (the soup for lunch with hummus, olives, marinated artichokes, tomatoes and baby greens on homemade crusty rolls; and the potato dish for dinner, along with a big salad) were certainly suited to the weather. Today, we were truly grateful for the thick, tasty leftover mushroom-laden barley soup for lunch again.

My paternal grandmother's family emigrated to Peru from the Italian province of Liguria, so the cuisine of the region naturally interests me:

"...A classic example of Ligurian culinary ingenuity, it [a frittata, tortino, or polpettone] is basically a way of turning vegetables into a main dish, or at least a hearty appetizer, by adding little more than miscellaneous odds and ends..." Colman Andrews in "Flavors of the Riviera" (Bantam Books, NY, 1996), quoted in my book “Nonna’s Italian Kitchen: Delicious Home-Style Vegan Cuisine”.

That's exactly why I love this recipe, which is from "Nonna's Italian Kitchen".  There are many ways to make this, depending on what you have in your refrigerator.  This is the way I made it yesterday, but there are suggestions for other variations.

Printable Recipe

BRYANNA’S TORTINO DI PATATE (Layered Potato Casserole—this time with rapini, onions, vegan Italian sausage, and vegan cheese.)
(Can be gluten-free and soy-free)    
Serves 6
A potato tortino (tortino mean “little cake” in Italian) is a layered casserole made with thinly-sliced pre-cooked waxy potatoes.  It can be made simply with potatoes, sautéed onions, and breadcrumbs, or a more elaborate version can be made by adding one or more of the other additions or alternatives listed at the end of the ingredient list.

2 lbs. waxy potatoes
1-4 T. extra-virgin olive oil (depending on your taste)
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2-3 cups chopped (about 1/2 a bunch) blanched rapini (broccoli rabe) or other greens
1 to 2 crumbled spicy vegan sausages (such as Field Roast Chipotle)—add a few dried chilli flakes if the sausage is not very spicy
2 large cloves garlic, minced
about 1/2 cups fine dry breadcrumbs or panko (can be whole grain; can be gluten-free)
1/4-1/2 cup vegan broth (I like Better Than Bouillon No-Chicken Vegan soup base)
salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste
about 1/4 cup vegan Parmesan substitute (we like Go Veggie! soy parmesan)
about 1 cup of Daiya Mozzarella Shreds or other vegan white cheese, or your own homemade version
1.) Instead of vegan mozza, use about 1 to 1 1/2 cups of thick Besciamella Sauce (made with or without the oil), dividing it between the layers, with some on the top. 
2.) Add 1/2 lb. fresh ripe sliced plum tomatoes, or about 1 cup canned tomatoes, drained and diced or chopped (add a clove of chopped garlic to the onions)
3.) Add 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary and 1 oz. dried porcini or boletus mushrooms, soaked in hot water, drained and chopped (use reserved soaking water for liquid in recipe) AND/OR 1/2 lb. any kind of fresh mushrooms, sliced and sautéed in a little extra-virgin olive oil
3.) Instead of the sausage, use 6 thin slices commercial vegetarian "bacon" or ham" (or your homemade version)
Some other ideas: 
a.) You could layer the potatoes with grilled or broiled zucchini or eggplant slices;
b.) or add some fresh basil or other herbs
c.) You could blend the broth with 1/2 cup or so of silken tofu (and a tsp of The Vegg [egg yolk sub], if you like) and pour 1/2 of it over each layer of potatoes, for an “eggy” binder.  
Steam or microwave the potatoes, cut into even-sized chunks, until they are just tender, but still firm.  (I don't usually peel them, but you can, if you wish.)  When they can be handled easily, slice them about 1/4-inch thick.
In a large heavy (can be non-stick) skillet over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil (whatever amount you prefer).  Sauté the onions in the oil until they are soft and starting to brown. Add the minced garlic, chopped, blanched rapini (or other greens), and sausage, and sauté for a few more minutes.

 Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
Coat a 10-inch glass or ceramic casserole (or a 2 qt. oval casserole) with olive oil and sprinkle it with some of the breadcrumbs.  

Place a single layer of potato slices on the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover the potatoes with half of the onion/greens/sausage/garlic mixture, and any optional ingredients you may be using.  Sprinkle with a heaping tablespoon of vegan parmesan and cover with 1/3 of your Daiya Shreds or whatever cheese alternative you may be using. Repeat layering once more, saving enough potatoes and cheese alternative for one more layer. Top with the last of the potato slices and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Pour the broth over the dish and then top with the remaining breadcrumbs, vegan cheese alternative, and vegan parmesan.  Bake for 30 minutes, or until bubbly and golden on top.  Serve hot.


Serves 10-12 (Soy-free and can be gluten-free)

It was snowing a bit today, and quite cold.  I’m so glad I made his soup yesterday! This soup is faster to make than my older version, contains no oil, and you don’t need any Marmite (yeast extract).  AND, just in case you aren’t near a convenient grocery store, you can use just a few fresh mushrooms, along with some soaked dried mushrooms, which everyone should have in their pantry for adding wonderful flavor and umami to any number of dishes! (I buy the wild mushrooms mixture available at Costco, in a 1 lb. container—very good buy!)

6 cups boiling water
1 1/2 oz. dried mixed wild mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
1 large leek, split, cleaned and chopped (If you have no leeks, use about 1 1/2 cups chopped onion in total.)
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms (preferably cremini)
4 large cloves garlic, minced
5 cups hot water mixed with
3 Tbsp + 2 tsp. vegan “chicken” broth powder or paste (I use Better Than Bouillon No-Chicken vegan broth paste)
1 tsp. dried rosemary
1/4 cup soy sauce or tamari
2 cups rinsed and drained cooked or canned chickpeas (one 19 oz. can)
1/2 cup water whisked with
1/4 cup unbleached white flour OR white GF flour mix
freshly-ground black pepper and salt to taste (you may not need any added salt)

Pour the boiling water over the dried mushrooms in a large bowl, pitcher or batter bowl, cover and let soak while you prepare the other ingredients.

Place the leeks in a covered microwave-proof casserole and microwave on 100% power for 5 minutes.  Remove the lid (carefully!) and stir in the sliced fresh mushrooms and garlic.  Cover and cook at 100% power for 2 or 3 more minutes.

Drain the soaked dried mushrooms in a sieve over a pot or bowl to catch the soaking water.  Squeeze as much of the water out of the mushrooms as possible.  Chop them coarsely. Strain the mushroom soaking water into your soup pot. Add the chopped soaked mushrooms, and the microwaved onion/leek/mushroom/garlic mix.  Stir in the 5 cups hot water mixed with the broth powder or paste, the barley, rosemary, soy sauce, and chickpeas.  Bring to a boil, turn down to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

In a small bowl whisk the 1/2 cup water with the flour until no lumps remain.  Whisk in a little of the hot broth from the soup and stir into the soup.  Stir well to distribute thoroughly.  Simmer for about 5 more minutes. Taste for salt and pepper.  Serve hot.