Monday, September 29, 2014


Best Blog Tips

I have been working on a few ongoing cooking experiments/projects, but, for the most part, we have been eating pretty simple meals with our own or local produce that is in such abundance.  For a few days, when my husband had some sort of flu, he wasn't eating at all, so I wasn't doing much cooking at all.  In between, I was tackling my pantry, which was badly in need of a good clean-out and re-organization.  It felt so good to get that done!

The above "tile" of photos represents four of the quick and simple meals that I made during this week-- meals that we enjoyed so much that we deemed them worth repeating! Roasted veggies (corn, tomatoes, green beans, etc.) were definitely a theme.  Roasting brings out the sweetness of any vegetable, it seems. We had a good crop of tomatoes this year, so I have been slow-roasting small batches of them. (They can be kept refrigerated for several days or frozen for longer periods.)  They are so sweet and juicy that they almost make an instant sauce. I have often broiler-roasted (broiled the veggies in the oven under the oven's broiler coils, which is my favorite method) corn kernels, but, for the first time, I broiler-roasted fresh green beans, which was so quick and very delicious-- so I used them in two of these dishes, as you can see.

I'm going to give you only 2 actual recipes (for the soup and the salad)-- the pasta dishes are just descriptions, because I was improvising and there are not long lists of ingredients.  I hope you'll have fun playing around with these ideas.

Spaghetti with Roasted Green Beans, Garlic and Chanterelle Mushrooms, & Slow-Roasted Tomatoes 

What I did:

I had some slow-roasted tomatoes in the refrigerator already (see this post for directions). I cooked 8 oz. of ordinary spaghetti, but you could use any long pasta. Cook in salted water, drain, and set aside. 

To broiler-roast the other veggies, I spread a couple of handfuls of small, fresh green beans (a sub could be thin stalks of asparagus, snapped in half), a couple of large cloves of garlic, sliced, and 2 large chanterelle mushrooms (or use any type of mushroom you have around), sliced, on a small rimmed baking sheet and tossed them with a tablespoon or so of olive oil and a little salt.  I broiled them in my oven's broiler (on High) about 6 inches below the heat source, watching carefully, until the green beans softened and started to char a bit.  Stir the veggies around and spread out again.  Broil for a few minutes more, until done to your taste.

In a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat mix together the cooked, drained spaghetti, the broiler-roasted veggies and about 1 1/2 to 2 cups slow-roasted tomatoes and juice, broken up a bit (remove any tough skins).  Add some fresh chopped basil, if you like.  Stir the mixture around in the pan to heat well and add some plain vegan creamer (I used So Delicious Coconut Original Creamer) just to moisten.  Add salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste and serve immediately with your favorite vegan parmesan substitute (I like Go Veggie! by Galaxy).  

Creamy Pasta with Slow-Roasted Tomatoes & Herbs

What I did:

There were a few recipes online for dishes like this, but I simplified!   I cooked 8 oz. of dried gemelli pasta, but you could use any short pasta. Cook in salted water and drain. 

I had a fresh batch of slow-roasted tomatoes, so I measured out about 1 1/2 cups of that, with juice, and broken up a bit (remove any tough skins). I mixed the hot, cooked gemelli (back in the cooking pot) with the hot roasted tomatoes, a little chopped garlic sautéed briefly in a little olive oil, some chopped fresh thyme and basil, salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste, and some plain vegan creamer (I used So Delicious Coconut Original Creamer) to make a creamy sauce. Stir over medium-high heat until hot.  If the pasta absorbs all the creamer, add a little more. Serve immediately with your favorite vegan parmesan substitute (I like Go Veggie! by Galaxy).  

I've been wanting to try whole grain sorghum for some time and finally found a bag of Bob's Red Mill brand at my natural foods store.  Here is some interesting information about this nutritious  ancient grain from Africa-- the fifth most important cereal crop in the world (who knew?)!  I was intrigued by its possibilities partly because it can be used as a nutritious stand-in for pearl couscous.

Since it was a hot day, and I had more green beans and slow-roasted tomatoes , I decided to make a salad-- with a bit of a Southwest flair. Now, the sorghum does take a little planning ahead because, unless you want to cook the sorghum for upwards of an hour, soak it in lots of water overnight! (Don't follow the directions on the BRM package!) This also saves energy because you don't have to cook it for so long.

Printable Recipe

Serves 6

1 cup uncooked whole grain sorghum (soaked overnight in water to cover)
2 cups fresh water
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 ounces thin fresh green beans
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen sweet corn kernels
1 tablespoon olive oil
About 1 1/2 cups slow-roasted tomatoes, sliced and drained
1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and cut into small chunks and tossed with a bit of lemon juice
About 8 large green olives stuffed with jalapeño peppers, sliced
1/4 cup aquafaba or Oil Substitute for Salad Dressings
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon dried tarragon, crumbled (or 1 tablespoon fresh, chopped)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 large clove garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon salt

Drain the soaked sorghum and discard the soaking water. In a heavy medium saucepan with a lid, combine the soaked sorghum, the first 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and the 2 cups fresh water. Bring the water to a boil. Cover the pan and reduce the heat.  Simmer for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the grains are tender. Drain well in a strainer or colander. Set aside to cool while you prepare the rest of the salad.

Spread out the green beans and corn kernels on a small rimmed baking sheet and toss them with 1 tablespoon olive oil and a little salt.  Place them about 6 inches below the heat source of your oven’s broiler, with the broiler set on High and watch carefully until the green beans soften and start to char a bit.  Stir the veggies around and spread out again.  Broil for a few minutes more, until done to your taste.

Make the Dressing by blending or whisking the ingredients together. Mix the cooled sorghum with the broiler-roasted green beans and corn, the slow-roasted tomatoes, sliced olives and avocado chunks.  Add the dressing and toss gently.  Serve at room temperature.


Printable Recipe

Serves 4
This is my vegan and much faster version of a recipe from Sunset magazine, April 2014.  Might be my new favorite vegan "chik'n noodle soup"!

8 cups vegan “chicken-style” broth (I like Better Than Bouillon No-Chicken Vegan Soup Base)
2 cups reconstituted Soy Curls, or vegan “chikn strips”, or thin slices of your favorite vegan “chicken-style” cutlet
(Read about Butler Soy Curls here, including instructions for reconstituting)
4 large green onions, thinly sliced
1 cup carrots, cut into matchsticks 
4 ounces dried long flat egg-free pasta, such as tagliatelle, fettuccine or linguine, broken in half
1/3 to 1/2 cup plain vegan creamer (not a sweet kind)
2 cups sugar snap peas, cut diagonally in half
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon OR 2 tsp. dried tarragon leaves, crumbled
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste

In a large pot, mix the broth, vegan chicken sub of your choice, green onions and carrots. Bring to a boil and turn down to a simmer.  Cook for 4 or 5 minutes, covered.  Add the pasta and simmer for 6 to 8 minutes more.  Stir in the vegan creamer, snap peas, parsley and tarragon.  Cover and remove from heat.  Let sit for a few minutes, just until the snap peas are dark green, but still have some crunch.

Serve immediately.


Monday, September 15, 2014


Best Blog Tips

The tomatoes are coming in fast and furiously, from our garden and from the gardens of friends. We have big ones and little ones, red ones and yellow ones. We're eating them on salads, in sandwiches and many other dishes, but it's hard to keep up.  Yesterday, I slow-roasted a small tray of tomatoes of various sizes and varieties and knew I could do something with them for dinner that night.

If you've never slow-roasted tomatoes, cut them in half horizontally if round, lengthwise if the long paste type.  Cover your rimmed baking sheet with foil and then with baking parchment.  Lay the tomato halves cut-side-up and sprinkle with olive oil and a little salt and unbleached sugar.  Bake at 250-300 degrees F for about 3 hours.  The paste tomatoes get a bit chewy, and the ripe eating tomatoes get a bit more juicy-- I had to cook the juicy ones for another 45 minutes or so at 350 degrees F.  Use right away on pasta or crusty bread or in a grain salad, or refrigerate.

For our dinner, I coated 2 of my homemade "chikn" cutlets (recipe in my book World Vegan Feast, but you could also use these new cutlets on this blog post) with whole wheat flour, dipped them in a mixture of nondairy milk with vegan sour cream whisked in to thicken it, and then coated them all over with panko (crisp Japanese breadcrumbs) mixed with Go Veggie or Follow Your Heart/EarthIsland  vegan Parmesan. (You can use any vegan cutlet you like, homemade or commercial; you can use soy, hemp or nut milk curdled with a little lemon juice for the wet mixture, if you like; and you could use GF bread or cereal crumbs instead of panko, and any vegan parmesan sub you like.)

You could pan-fry these in a little olive oil, or brown them in a 400 degree F oven, turning once, but I browned them under my oven's broiler, about 6 inches below the heat source, just spraying with a little oil from a pump-sprayer.

For the tomato topping, I drizzled about half of the roasted tomatoes with about 1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar and mixed in some chopped fresh basil.  I heated the tomatoes gently in the microwave and spooned them over the hot crispy cutlets, serving immediately.

Simple, but DELICIOUS!


Monday, September 8, 2014


Best Blog Tips

More kale!  These days I'm constantly looking for great ways to use the ever-abundant kale supply coming out of our garden. Today I give you my version of an old Martha Stewart recipe (from 2009), to which I made a few changes.  1.) I lowered the oil content from 1/2 cup to 2 tablespoons (and I used olive oil); 2.) I used julienned carrots instead of "coins"; and 3.) I "massaged" the kale-- which is just rubbing the sliced raw kale for a very few minutes to break down some of the connective tissue of the kale leaves so that it is softer.

I really liked the idea of the peanut dressing, and it is a delicious, but not heavy, dressing for this salad.  I thought of a few changes I could make next time I prepare this: add some grated ginger to the dressing; add some Sriracha sauce; use small cubes of cooked sweet potato instead of the carrots; use rice vinegar instead of cider...

Printable Copy

Serves 6

10 cups of thinly sliced kale (wash, drain and strip from stalks before slicing crosswise)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red bell pepper, seeded and thinly-sliced
2 medium carrots, julienned (I used a julienne vegetable cutter/peeler-- see this post about the one I prefer)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup salted peanuts
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 cup salted peanuts

Toss together the sliced kale and the first 1 tablespoon of oil in a large bowl. Mix and lightly squeeze or rub the kale for a couple of minutes, just to soften the kale a bit.

To make the Dressing, add the Oil Sub, vinegar, 1/4 cup peanuts brown sugar, 1 tablespoon olive   oil and salt to your blender and mix at high speed until smooth.

Pour the dressing over the vegetables and toss well. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup salted peanuts, whole or coarsely chopped—your choice!