Monthly Archives: February 2019

Vegan Risotto

Prep time: 15 minutes /Cook time: about 45 minutes/Total Time: 1 hour

I’ve been making risotto for almost 30 years and my first attempt was a crunchy miserable mess. Then I found Craig Claiborne’s simple basic recipe in the New York Times. It’s great because no matter what “kind” of risotto you want to make you can use this as your base and fold in the other ingredients at the end of the rice’s cook time.

Note: Please use a decent quality short-grain Arborio rice. Even in full-fat dairy versions, the creaminess of risotto comes from the starch of a perfectly cooked grain, not from the butter, cream, or cheese.

Veganization: Instead of butter I use olive oil at the beginning and Earth Balance to finish. I choose to not replace the Parmesan cheese, but you can add ¾ cup of plant-based parm at the end…fold it in with the Earth Balance. Of course, vegetable stock replaces chicken stock.

(Recipe based on The New York Times Cookbook, Revised Edition; Harper & Row, 1990; pps 536-7)

 

2 cups short-grain Arborio rice

5 cups Vegetable stock (I usually use a 4 cup box and add a cup of water)

4 Tbs Olive Oil

¼ cup finely chopped onion

2 cloves finely chopped garlic

½ cup dry white wine

1Tbs Kosher Salt

1 tsp dried thyme

½ tsp white pepper

to finish:

1 pinch saffron treads

4 Tbs Earth Balance or other vegan butter

 

In a medium sauce pan heat the stock to just below simmering. Keep hot and close at very low heat.

In a heavy bottomed pot or Dutch oven heat the olive oil and add the onion, garlic, and salt. Cook until soft. Add the rice, thyme, and pepper. Stir well to coat and mix and continue cooking for about a minute or two to toast the aromatics and brown the rice bran. Boost the heat and pour in the wine – stir quickly to release any stuck bits on the bottom of the pot and lower the heat to medium to medium low. At this point the wine should be about gone.

Next, ladle 1 cup of the hot stock into the rice (Fun Fact: Most kitchen ladles are ½ cup), and stir to combine. Adjust the heat to a slow simmer. The rice should be absorbing the stock slowly and you should be stirring it gently. The 1st cup of stock should absorb pretty quick and you’ll see the starches thicken up. This is when you add another cup (2 ladles) of hot stock and stir to mix. This time the stock should absorb a little slower. You do not need to stir constantly, but I wouldn’t leave the kitchen. Make yourself a cocktail or empty the dishwasher. It’s important to remember that you’re cooking rice, but slowly, a little bit of liquid at a time, and with the lid off. Repeat adding the warm broth when needed, gently stirring, waiting a little and stirring a little.

About 30 minutes after you added your first cup of stock, you should be adding your last. (Slow cook time, plus the heated stock, plus the upfront toasting, helps break down the bran of Arborio rice into creamy starchy goodness.)

Once you add the last of your stock, keep the flame steady at medium heat, and stir well. Add the vegan butter and crush and add the saffron threads and fold in. Turn heat off and cover. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Adding in ingredients like mushrooms, artichoke hearts, pine nuts, vegan cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, walnuts, herbs, or any combination should be cooked separately and folded in at the end or served on top or at the side.

In the summer, I’ll lighten this recipe up with fresh lemon juice, herbs, and seasonal steamed or grilled veggies…in the winter I’ll keep it warm and rich with mushrooms, nuts, hearty greens, and finish it with port.

 

Makes 4-6 servings

 

Enjoy!

Tofu Scramble

Prep time: 5 minutes /Cook time: 8 minutes/Total Time: 15 minutes

 

Half a block of Extra Firm Tofu, drained under weight

4 Tbs grape seed or other high-heat oil

1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

½ tsp garlic powder

½ tsp turmeric

½ tsp black pepper

½ tsp kosher salt

Pinch of sugar

Splash of rice wine vinegar

 

½ Red or Green Bell Pepper

½ cup Red or Yellow Onion

 

Weight and drain your tofu (I use an inexpensive tofu press) and crumble into, for lack of a better term, “scrambled egg size” pieces. In a bowl, toss the crumbled tofu, oil, spices, sugar and vinegar together and let it marinate for about 10-15 minutes while you chop your bell pepper and onion.

Tofu Scramble 2

Crumbled and seasoned tofu for Scramble

With a little oil and kosher salt in a non-stick skillet, sauté the onion and bell pepper on medium-high heat until softened but still colorful (about 3 minutes). Then add the marinated tofu, stir and toss to heat, combine, and brown. This will be take about 5-6 minutes, adjust your heat as needed but it should be consistent around medium heat.

This will make about 3 servings and is great in breakfast burritos and sandwiches, or just alone with some nice toast and coffee!

Enjoy!

Basic Tomato Sauce

Prep time: 15 minutes /Cook time: 90 minutes/Total Time: 2 hours

One of the reasons I started this blog was for my kids. As daring, industrious young adults (mostly vegan and nearly vegan), they wanted a lot of my recipes of the food they grew up on to cook for themselves. They always loved my tomato sauce and I’ve always given them a quick, “Oh, it’s easy, take this and this and cook it together for a while.” When visiting me though, they claimed that it never quite tasted the same, so we cooked this Basic Tomato Sauce together. What I discovered is that “basic” is a qualifier for the sauce, not the skills and timing needed to produce a hearty and rich tomato sauce.

My kids were pretty much looking at the list, dumping the ingredients in a pot, and simmering it for about 30 minutes. While I’m a big believer in “If you use good ingredients, you’ll get a good product,” any recipe is a little more than simply the sum of its parts – I needed to refine my kid’s technique a little bit. See the notes below for hints!

2 28 oz cans of tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes (see notes below)

1 28 oz can of tomato puree

¼ cup of high-heat and olive oil mix

1 medium to large yellow onion, chopped

4-6 cloves of garlic, chopped or crushed, large pieces

1 ½ cups red wine (or white wine or beer – see notes)

1 ½ Tbs of Italian Seasoning (mixed herbs only, no salt),

OR

(1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp dried parsley

1 tsp dried tarragon

1 tsp dried basil)

2 Tbs Kosher salt

1 tsp dried rosemary, crushed

1 tsp garlic powder

1 Tbs fennel seed

1 Tbs Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

4 Tbs Balsamic Vinegar – split

Handful of chopped fresh basil, oregano, and parsley (optional)

2 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Start with a hot pot. Preheat a 5-7 quart Dutch oven or other large heavy-bottomed pot on the stovetop. Add the high-heat oil and olive oil mix and then add the garlic and onions and sauté on medium heat until they get translucent. Toward the end of the sauté time, add all the herbs and 2 Tbs of the balsamic vinegar, cook with the o & g the last couple minutes.

When the onions, garlic, and herbs are soft, boost the heat and stir. As soon as it’s starting to get nice and hot, hit it with the wine and then lower the heat back down to medium and stir from the bottom to release any caramelization from the pan. This is when I open my cans…so let this simmer down for a couple minutes.

Add the tomato sauces first and stir until mixed. Then turn up the heat to medium high to get this simmering again. Once combined, stir in the puree, keep the heat on medium high and stir and bring back up to a simmer. This is when I usually add a little wine to each of the empty cans and swirl them around a bit, pour that into the pot too.

Adjust the heat and bring the sauce up to a slow bubbly simmer while stirring occasionally. At this point, everything should be smoothly combined, nothing stuck on the sides or bottom of the pot…kinda scrape the sides down and tuck it in by partially covering the pot.

Simmer slowly, stirring occasionally, for at least 1 hour.

Turn off heat.

Stir in the rest of the balsamic and 2 Tbs of olive oil and the optional chopped fresh herbs. Cover completely and let rest for about 20 minutes. Taste and adjust before serving.

Makes about  10 cups (2 batches)

Recipe notes:

Tomato Sauces – I use mid-quality/priced tomato sauces for this recipe, you can go more expensive, but I wouldn’t go cheaper. You can also adjust the texture of this sauce by substituting your tomato mix, smooth v chunky tomato sauce, the crushed tomatoes option will make the final product a little thinner and lighter, etc.

Wine – Be flexible, generally, I like a cheap Italian red wine for this, but something drinkable. If I’m making a lighter sauce I’ll use white wine, if I’m making something like ‘beef’-a-roni, I’ll even use a beer. If you want to eliminate the alcohol altogether, double the vinegar. You still want that acid.

Good luck and enjoy!

Hummus + variations

Total Time: 5 minutes

 

1 15oz can garbanzo beans, drained and lightly rinsed

2 cloves garlic

Juice from 1 lemon

1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbs tahini

1 tbs kosher salt

2 tsp cumin

In a high-speed blender or food processor combine all ingredients and mix to your desired texture. Make it more/less garlicy or lemony or cuminy to your taste.

That’s it…why are you buying pre-made hummus?? Seriously…. This is soooo much better and you will impress your family, friends, and neighbors.

(note – if it’s not mixing well or is too thick, don’t be scared to gradually add a little water to get it moving again)

(another note – don’t be afraid of tahini, just think of it as sesame seed “peanut butter,” keep it in the fridge, and always mix it up really well before using)

Experiment with this basic recipe by using different beans, beets, or even carrots. For instance, I love making black-eyed-pea hummus with a little creole seasoning. You can add a little jalapeño, red peppers, sriracha, more garlic, etc. The one thing you’ll need to be aware of is your moisture level – reserve some bean liquid in case you need to thicken it up a bit after your add-ins.

Enjoy!

Yes Karen, bread is vegan

I’m not the best baker. I’m a little too “a dash of this and a dash of that” to go it on my own. So that’s why i was really excited to find this perfectly easy recipe for delicious crusty mini-loaves! With only four ingredients and minimal fuss, impress your family and friends with a warm homemade loaf and a kitchen that smells like fresh bread and love

Vegan Mozzarella

Loved this quick and easy recipe for dairy-free mozzarella! One of the key ingredients here is Kappa Carrageenan – I ordered from Amazon.

Tip: Once you add the boiling water – work quickly! it starts to firm up instantly. I poured mine into 8oz ramekins.

Here’s the link to Vegan Blueberry where I got the recipe! Great site! Thank You!

 

Roasted Red Potato Salad

Prep time: 15 minutes /Cook time: 30 minutes/Total Time: 60 minutes

6 medium red potatoes

½ cup frozen shelled edamame – thawed (you can use peas too)

½ copped yellow onion

½ cup chopped celery

Pinch or two of salt, black pepper, white pepper, dried oregano, dill, thyme, crushed red pepper flakes, celery seed, and caraway seed, plus ¼ tsp of dry mustard

¼ cup olive oil

Juice of half a lemon and a splash of red wine vinegar

½ cup vegan mayo (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the whole red potatoes on a parchment-lined baking sheet and sprinkle them with a little grapeseed or other high heat oil and with salt and pepper. Roast for about 30 minutes. Let cool.

Chop your veggies and, in a big bowl, combine with all the ingredients except the mayo.

When the potatoes have cooled, slice (skin and all) into big chunks. With the medium ones I used I got about 6 pieces per potato. Add the potatoes to the crunchy veggie mixture and mix well. Let this sit for about 30 minutes and stir it around occasionally. Do not add the mayo yet!

The mayo is optional. If you don’t like mayo..want to keep this salad a little more defined, etc…it’s great without it. If this is what you choose, I would add a little more olive oil and lemon, mix it up a little more, and call it a day.

If you want a creamy, more traditional potato salad, add the mayo. BUT, the reason I don’t want you to add the mayo right away is that you want the starchy potatoes to pick up all the flavors you put in there, so give it some time to make this happen. If you add the mayo in right away, you’re going to be flavoring the mayo, not the potatoes.

After you’ve tasted it and have adjusted the seasonings, chill it for a while in the fridge. It just keeps getting better, but make sure you stir it up really well every time before serving.

Enjoy!