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. 


Friday, November 29, 2013


Best Blog Tips

We felt in the mood for oatmeal cookies the other night, so I decided to experiment with some changes to my recipe for Chewy Fat-Free Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, a recipe in which pureed beans substitute for the usual butter or margarine.  I had noted on that recipe that quick oats and a little bit of vegan butter might have improved them, so this time I did use quick oats and only 3/4 cup bean puree (and chickpea instead of white bean puree), along with 1/4 cup of my vegan butter. I also decided to cut out the 3/4 cup granulated sugar in the first recipe.  We loved the results-- they were certainly sweet enough, and nice and crunchy. I love using beans in baking, too!

Yield: 32 three-inch cookies
Note: You can bake only 1/4 of the dough or 1/2 of the dough and freeze the rest for another time, if you like.  If the extra dough is formed into flattened balls and frozen that way (on parchment, with parchment in between the layers, in a large freezer storage container with a tight lid), they will thaw out quickly.

Wet Mix:       
3/4 cup puréed (rinsed and drained) cooked or canned chickpeas (add a bit of water if they are too dry to purée) OR pureed well-cooked split yellow peas   
1/4 cup vegan butter (try my homemade palm oil-free vegan "Buttah")
1 cup brown sugar (or coconut sugar)     
1/4 cup brown rice syrup       
2 vegan "eggs" (see Note below for suggestions)           
Dry Mix:        
1 1/2 cups whole wheat *pastry* flour 
1/2 tsp salt     
1/2 tsp baking powder           
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg           
3 cups quick oats       
Optional: (choose 1) 
1 1/2 cups vegan (dairy-free) chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups raisins or other dried fruit (small or cut up)       
Other option:
1 cup chopped nuts   

Vegan “Egg” Alternatives (choose one-- each choice below equals 2 vegan "eggs"):

1.) 1/4 cup water whisked with 2 teaspoons powdered egg replacer (Ener-G or Orgran) until frothy, with no lumps;
2.) 1/4 cup water water blended with 1 teaspoon Vegg powder until smooth (use an immersion blender);
3.) If you have the book “The Cornbread Gospels” by Crescent Dragonwagon, you can use her recipe for “Eggscellence” homemade egg replacer, which is really excellent. If you don’t have the book (which is well worth purchasing) you can read the recipe on the “Look Inside” function for the book (scroll down to pps. 352-353) . Use 3 tablespoons of the Eggscellence powder whisked with 3 tablespoons water and 2 teaspoons liquid lecithin (soy or sunflower);
4.) 2 tablespoons flax seeds blended in a small blender jar with 6 tablespoons water until frothy and "gloppy" like egg white.
5.) 6 tablespoons aquafaba (liquid from cooking chickpeas), beaten a bit until frothy.

Beat together the Wet Mix ingredients until smooth in a medium bowl with an immersion blender or an electric hand-held beater.  In another bowl, whisk together all of the Dry Mix ingredients EXCEPT the oats.  When they are well-mixed, stir in the oats.  Add any Optionals you might be using and stir to distribute.  Pour in the Wet Mix and stir well until thoroughly combined.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Divide the dough into 32 equal-sized balls. (Wet your hands a little if the dough is sticking.)  Place the balls a couple of inches apart on baking parchment-lined baking sheets.

Use a flat-bottomed glass (dampen the bottom a bit to keep it from sticking to the dough) to flatten the balls evenly to about 3 inches across.

Bake the cookies for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Place the cookies on cooling racks and cool thoroughly before serving.

 Nutrition Facts (with no optionals)
Nutrition (per cookie): 106.8 calories; 17% calories from fat; 2.1g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 51.7mg sodium; 92.2mg potassium; 20.8g carbohydrates; 1.7g fiber; 10.1g sugar; 19.1g net carbs; 2.5g protein; 2.0 points.

Nutrition (per cookie with raisins only): 129.9 calories; 14% calories from fat; 2.1g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 52.6mg sodium; 150.1mg potassium; 27.0g carbohydrates; 2.0g fiber; 14.6g sugar; 24.9g net carbs; 2.7g protein; 2.4 points.

Nutrition (per serving with raisins &nuts): 153.8 calories; 25% calories from fat; 4.5g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 52.7mg sodium; 166.3mg potassium; 27.5g carbohydrates; 2.3g fiber; 14.7g sugar; 25.2g net carbs; 3.2g protein; 3.0 points

Nutrition (per serving with chocolate chips only): 144.5 calories; 25% calories from fat; 4.4g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 52.6mg sodium; 92.2mg potassium; 25.8g carbohydrates; 2.2g fiber; 10.1g sugar; 23.6g net carbs; 2.8g protein; 2.8 points.

Nutrition (per serving) with chocolate chips & nuts): 168.4 calories; 34% calories from fat; 6.8g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 52.7mg sodium; 108.3mg potassium; 26.3g carbohydrates; 2.4g fiber; 10.2g sugar; 23.9g net carbs; 3.3g protein; 3.4 points.

Nutrition (per serving)with nuts only): 130.7 calories; 29% calories from fat; 4.4g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 51.8mg sodium; 108.3mg potassium; 21.3g carbohydrates; 2.0g fiber; 10.2g sugar; 19.4g net carbs; 3.0g protein; 2.6 points.



Thursday, November 21, 2013


Best Blog Tips

A very easy and yummy low-fat vegan dinner: steamed broccoli, baked tofu with Huli Huli Sauce, Corn Pudding, brown basmati rice and roasted squash.
This post is going to be a bit of a mish-mosh!

The first thing I need to post is the Huli Huli sauce. I posted  the photo above on my Facebook page a couple of weeks ago and promised to post the recipe for the Huli Huli Sauce "soon".  Well, I am finally getting around to it-- sorry to be so slow!  Huli Huli Sauce is of Hawaiian origin and the "Huli Huli" part derives from the meaning, "to turn".  The sauce was used on food turning on a spit-- hence, the name.  Judging by the ingredients (which vary a little from version to version), the sauce has been a bit Americanized over the years, and the sauce is used as a type of barbecue sauce. This is my own particular version, which we think is quite yummy.

Baked tofu with Huli Huli Sauce (recipe below)

Servings: 4             Yield: about 1 cup
Use as a grilling, baking or BBQ sauce

1/4 cup    water
1/4 cup    brown sugar or coconut sugar
1/4 cup    soy sauce (can be low-sodium)|
2 Tbs    dry or medium sherry
2 Tbs    ketchup (can be low-sodium)
2 tsp    dark sesame oil
1 Tbs    grated fresh ginger
a few shakes of hot sauce
a few shakes of liquid smoke
1 large clove garlic, crushed

Whisk together the ingredients. Marinate your tofu, seitan, Soy Curls, tempeh or whatever in the sauce for a while, if you have time. Then grill, bake (at about 450 °F), BBQ or broil your food until the sauce soaks in and your food has nicely browned.  I didn't have time to marinate it, so I just baked thick firm tofu slices until they soaked up most of the sauce and browned a bit.

 Nutrition Facts (sauce only):
Nutrition (per 1/4 recipe): 100.6 calories; 19% calories from fat; 2.3g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 539.1mg sodium; 128.1mg potassium; 17.9g carbohydrates; 0.3g fiber; 15.2g sugar; 17.6g net carbs; 1.0g protein; 2.2 points.

I've been experimenting lately with using bean flours for thickening sauces, gravies and soups (more recipes to come).  Using bean flours instead of white flour thickens mixtures such as this while adding fiber, protein and other nutrients to what might have been an almost empty calorie condiment.  It's also handy for converting your sauces and gravies and cream soups to gluten-free and soy-free, and great for diabetics and those on low-glycemic and low-fat diets.  The results have good depth of flavor and a lovely creaminess. So, far, I've only used chickpea flour and white bean flour, which are very versatile. You can substitute white bean flour measure-for-measure in place of white flour for thickening purposes. (Still checking chickpea flour sub amounts.)

Freshly-milled white bean flour from my new Wonder Mill-- you can also buy this flour in some natural food stores and online. Bob's Red Mill and Barry Farms are well known brands that carry it. I mill it from white navy beans, which are less expensive than the white kidney beans I usually use for cooking.
I do have some experience with a bean-based gravy already. The following recipe (from my book "World Vegan Feast") is my go-to brown gravy recipe (which can be varied with different types of wine, mushrooms, etc.).  It is fat-free, gluten-free, and soy-free.  Enjoy!

Broiled Soy Curls, onions and mushrooms on toast with bean-based GF Rich Brown Yeast Gravy (from my book "World Vegan Feast", but recipe below)
Printable Recipe

From my book “World Vegan Feast”
Makes 2 1/2 cups
This fat-free and delicious brown gravy will become a low-fat staple. It lends itself to many variations!

1/3 cup nutritional yeast flakes
2 tablespoons oat flour (can be GF) (grind rolled or quick oats in a dry blender or electric coffee/spice mill)
4 tablespoons chickpea flour (besan)
(OR use 1/3 cup white bean flour in place of the oat and chickpea flour)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 1/2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
Optional: several shakes of gravy browner, such as Kitchen Bouquet

In a 1 1/2 to 2 quart microwave-safe batter bowl or measuring pitcher, mix the flours and yeast. Toast this in the microwave on full power for 2 to 3 minutes, uncovered. Whisk in the water, soy sauce, salt, and gravy browner, if using. Cover and cook on full power for 3 minutes. Whisk well. Cook again for 3 minutes on full power. Whisk one last time.

Alternatively, in a heavy saucepan over high heat, whisk the yeast and flours together until they smell toasty. Remove from the heat briefly to whisk in the water, soy sauce, salt, and gravy browner, if using. Stir constantly over high heat until it thickens and comes to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 2 to 5 minutes.

This gravy can be made ahead and reheated.

Nutrition (per 1/2-cup serving): 26.6 calories; 13% calories from fat; 0.4g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 218.0mg sodium; 113.5mg potassium; 3.5g carbohydrates; 1.4g fiber; 0.3g sugar; 2.1g net carbs; 3.0g protein; 0.3 points.

Freshly-milled chickpea flour from my new Wonder Mill with an adapter for milling bean flours. If you don't have a mill, you can buy chickpea or garbanzo bean flour (or besan) in health food stores and Indian grocery stores, as well as online.
My latest gravy recipe is a new bean-based version of my Southern-style biscuit gravy.  You can bulk it up with Soy Curls (read about Soy Curls here) or other chicken subs, or vegan sausage, if you like.  DH went crazy over it! (And, if you are counting calories, nix the biscuits and serve it on a steamed or baked potato, or whole grain toast or fat-free waffles.)

Creamy-smooth Vegan Southern-Style Bean-Based Biscuit Gravy (with Soy Curls) on a potato

Printable Recipe
Servings: 6
Yield: 3 cups (without additions)

1/3 cup    white bean flour  
1/4 cup    nutritional yeast flakes  
1/2 tsp    salt  
1 1/2 cups    water  
1 cup     plain nondairy milk  
1/2 Tbs     soy sauce  
1/2 Tbs    "chicken-style" vegetarian broth powder or paste (you can use a GF and/or SF version, if necessary), such as Better Than Bouillon No-Chicken Vegan Soup Base  
2 tsp    dark sesame oil (Optional, but gives a smokey flavor)
freshly-ground black pepper  
OPTIONAL: (any or all)  
2 cups    reconstituted Soy Curls or other vegan chicken sub strips OR crumbled vegan breakfast sausage (about 2 large links or 4 small), browned a bit under a broiler  
1/2 tsp    dried rubbed sage (not powdered)  
1/2 tsp    dried thyme leaves (not powdered)  
2    green onions, thinly sliced  

Freshly-milled white bean flour
Blend together all of the gravy ingredients (EXCEPT optionals) until smooth.  Place in a heavy medium saucepan.  Whisk over high heat until it starts to boil, then reduce the heat to medium and whisk constantly for several minutes. Bean flour takes a little longer than grain flour to cook through.  Use taste and smell to discern whether or not the gravy is finished.  There should be no “beany” taste or smell if it’s done.

Making the gravy
If you are adding any of the optionals, do so at this point, heat through and taste for seasoning. Serve hot over hot split biscuits, toast, plain waffles, or potatoes.

The Gravy (with Soy Curls) on a potato; broiled leeks mixed with broth-sauteed broccoli with sundried tomatoes

I've been utilizing my oven's broiler ALOT these days, as we have been watching our calories.  I spread veggies, or sliced tofu in a marinade, or reconstituted Soy Curls, etc. on a cookie sheet sprayed with a little oil from a pump sprayer, add any seasoning I might want, spray with a little oil from the pump sprayer again and place about 4-5 inches under the hot broiler.  In just a few minutes they start to char a little and vegetables soften.  I stir them around and cook for a few more minutes.  In about 6 to 8 minutes, my food it cooked through and browned, with virtually no fat and not much effort.

Sometimes I use this method for a simple vegetable side dish an sometimes I use it as an alternate to stir-frying.  I love doing leeks this way-- they get so soft and sweet and juicy. Give it a try!

Broiled leeks and zucchini
Broiled Soy Curls, mushrooms and onions, ready to be topped with Rich Brown Gravy.
Broiled leeks