Friday, June 15, 2012

Vegan Sauerkraut Balls. To die for.

It's been a while. So many things afoot in NFP land, it's hard to keep track. Here's the short list:

Launched a new business - Nourish - vegan/locally focused/healthy food delivery service
Gotten some AWESOME catering gigs, man oh MAN
Learning ridiculous things, like Excel, and how to actually be organized

Life is good. I hope it is for you too.

So, I know I've waxed lovingly on Harmony Valley's burger mix before - how it's the best slider base you'll ever use, how it performs beautifully on a grill, etc etc - but for my next trick, I'd like to point you in the direction of their sausage stuff. Man, is it tasty, and it means you can make this:

That's right kids, those are Sauerkraut Balls. Classic 50's party food. And they're totes vegan. I dare you to make these next time Beer and Nibbles night rolls around and have leftovers.

Sauerkraut Balls
makes 12 large or 16 small balls

1 cup Harmony Valley Breakfast Sausage dry mix
2 tbl olive oil
1/2 cup water
1 tbl toasted sesame oil
1/2 medium onion, very thinly sliced
1 14oz can sauerkraut, squeezed of some of its liquid
1 tbl whole-grain mustard
8oz vegan cream cheese, chilled
2 cups breadcrumbs
1.5 cups flour
Egg replacer equivalent for 4 eggs
4 cups Canola or refined Coconut oil, for frying
Yellow mustard, to serve

Prep your sausage by mixing the water and 2 tbl olive oil with the dry mix. Let stand 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the sesame oil in a medium saute pan and add the onion. Cook 8-10 minutes, until the onion starts to caramelize. Add sauerkraut and mustard, and stir. Cook for 6-8 minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Remove to a heat-proof bowl.

In the same pan, add the crumbled sausage mix and cook until just firm, about 4 minutes, turning often. Add to the sauerkraut mix, stir once, and put the bowl in the freezer to chill.

Set up three stations for dredging: a small bowl of egg replacer, a plate with half the flour on it, and another plate with half the breadcrumbs.

Remove sausage mix from the freezer and fold in the cream cheese. Grab a small handful of sausage/cheese mix and dredge it in the flour, rolling it until it becomes a well shaped ball. Dip in the egg replacer, then dredge in the breadcrumbs. Set aside on a clean plate while rolling the remaining mix.

Heat oil to 375f and add sausage balls in batches, 3-4 at a time. Turn them often with a fork while frying to retain their shape. Drain well on paper towels.

Serve, with mustard for dipping. ZOMG so good. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

On Pizza Cravings

Oh pizza. PIZZA. You're such a temptress, pizza.

I've been through them all - the crazy chemical miracles that are on the market to help those of us aspiring to be vegan to calm our cravings. But there's the aftertastes - the freaky textures - the plastic-coated tongue - nothing does it for me. The only thing that takes a little of the edge off? Cashew cheese.

I know I've harped on the stuff before, many a time, but you guys should know - my love doth not lessen. CC hits all the importants - crisps under the broiler, has the all important indulgent, fatty flavor and texture, and it's extremely customizable. Making a tex-mex pie? Stick half a jalapeno, a handful of cilantro, and use lime juice rather than lemon for tang whislt pureeing the nuts.

The above pie? Buffalo mushroom with carrots, celery, roasted tomato, topped with jalapeno/parsley puree. HOT POTATO and extremely delish. Details below.

Buffalo Mushroom Pizza

serves 2

For pie:
1 batch pizza dough (gluten-free crusts work wonderfully here my dears - here's one to try)
6 ounces sliced Crimini mushrooms tossed with 4 tablespoons Frank's Red Hot sauce
4 small Roma tomatoes, sliced
1 large carrot, peeled, diced
2 medium ribs celery, chopped
1 cup freshly made Cashew Cheese, extra-garlicy

For puree:
3 tablespoons freshly minced parsley
2 scallions, minced
1 small jalapeno, stemmed, unseeded (I like the spicy.)
1/2 tsp sea salt
Just enough water to process

Gotta make that delish cheese first. Here's how:

Soak 2/3 cup raw cashews in hot water, just enough to cover, for 20 minutes. Drain half the water off and toss them into the blender, along with the juice of one lemon, 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast, 1 teaspoon salt, 3 cloves garlic (minced) and pulse until the cashews start to break down. You'll most likely need to get a scraper out to help the puree process along. Chunky texture is good - but not too chunky. If your cheese ends up a little wet - transfer to a small baking sheet and bake in a 350f oven for 10-15, scraping often, until it dries out a bit.

Meanwhile, roast your tomatoes and mushrooms: toss the sliced Romas with a little olive oil, lay out on a baking sheet, and throw them in a 400f oven for 20 minutes or so. Just enough to char them a tiny bit, and dry them out. Same with the mushrooms - you want them to release a little liquid and absorb your hot sauce. Remove veggies and turn the heat to 450f.

Roll or throw your pizza dough into a 12-14 inch round. Brush it with olive oil.

Spread a good heaping tablespoon of cheese over the dough, spreading with a spoon or your fingers. This is the glue layer - it'll help keep your toppings on your pizza. Lay the tomatoes over the pie, attempting not to overlap. Then scatter carrots and celery. Then mushrooms. Now, with your fingers, grab half-handfuls of cashew cheese and gently "throw" it at your pizza, covering the pie as evenly as possible. I love this technique as it allows the cheese to make peaks that brown very nicely as the pie bakes.

Toss that sucker in your preheated oven and bake 10-12, until crust is golden brown and the cashew cheese is starting to toast.

While the pie is baking, rinse your blender out and make the jalapeno puree - add all ingredients to your blender and whirr until combined, adding just enough water to make things go smoothly.

Remove pizza from oven. Transfer puree to a squirt bottle. Drizzle pizza with puree, slice, and serve.

Enjoy, my dears!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Masala Mushroom Loaf. Yowza.

Tired of the same ol' same ol' mushroom loaves? Thyme for something new? In need of some sage advice?

Try this spicy sweet number on: mushrooms, yes, and some tofu - but minced chilis, sweet peas, curry leaves, and good, toasty Garam Masala kill the Fall Flavor Set and make room for Spring. In the middle of February. Yes plz.

I LOOOOVE the parchment paper trick when making vegetable loaves - the lovely browned crust the oven's worked so hard to make comes out in one piece, every time. Just cool for 20 minutes, invert over a platter, and there it is, ready for slicing.

Its the perfect opportunity to play with inclusions, but remember - greenery roasts to brown, so use vegetation with color. Small red pepper flowers work well. Green peas, carrots, and beets work too. Enoki mushrooms keep a light brown shade, so you can laminate your own little 70's Forest Scene on top of your next loaf, if you'd like, as long as you lightly coat your parchment with oil - otherwise, your lovely lamination might stick. And we can't have that!

Masala Mushroom Loaf
serves 4-6

1 tablespoon olive oil
12 small or 8 medium crimini mushrooms, minced
1/2 small red onion, minced
1/2 red pepper, minced
1 bird's eye chili, minced

1.5 tablespoons garam masala

7 ozs extra firm tofu, well drained, crumbled
8 dried curry leaves, crushed
2 tsp brown sugar
2/3 cup raw cashew pieces

2 tablespoons melted EB
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon flax meal
1 medium white potato, baked until soft, mashed (or 2/3 cup mashed potato)
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp asofoetida

1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tablespoon sea salt

Loaf pan
1 sheet parchment paper
Canola oil, to coat

Preheat the oven to 350f. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the loaf pan, sides included. Cut slits in the corner so it will fold flat to the pan's form. Spray a little oil on the bare metal before fitting the parchment inside - it'll help it stay in place.

Reserve a few pieces of red pepper for garnish. In a dry skillet or saute pan, toast the garam masala for 2-3 minutes, until very fragrant. Set aside.

Heat the olive oil in the same skillet and add pepper and onion. Cook 5 minutes, until pepper softens and onion is translucent. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring often, for 6-8 minutes, until mushrooms have released their liquid and almost all of it, but not quite, has steamed off.

Remove sauteed veggies to a heatproof bowl.

In a food processor, pulse cashews until they're the texture of large polenta - not powdery, with some chunks still there. Add to warm vegetables. Mix in remaining ingredients and taste for salt - add a teeny bit if need be. The mixture should be relatively dry, but not crumbly - add a little more Earth Balance or even a titch of water if it needs it.

Cut small triangles out of two or three sides of a piece of red pepper with a paring knife. Repeat for as many "flowers" as you'd like.

Arrange red peppers and a stem or two of cilantro on the bottom of the loaf pan, and press 1/2 a cup of the mushroom masala mixture over top, pressing down to keep things stuck in place. Add remaining loaf mixture, pressing down firmly, and flattening top with wet hands once the mix is used up.

Bake for 50 minutes covered, then another 15-20 uncovered, until loaf is browned on top and firm-ish to the touch. Let rest 20 minutes, invert onto a platter, and serve. I'll share the apple-lentil gravy we noshed ours with next week - it was pretty killer.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Like I said. Partying. Is awesome.

Few things set my creative cooking brain afire more than a food loving pal's birthday party. I get to make them a prezzie that they eat, is yummy, and they don't have to worry about reading it, or wearing it around me, or mentioning how much they're enjoying it. It just quietly digests and becomes part of them. And we all need more Big Mac Steamed Buns lurking in our cellular structures.

I fully realize how innocent this sucker looks from the outside. It could almost be healthy. What could possibly be in there other than chives, mushrooms, maybe some tempeh, and ginger?

And then wham, you hit Special Sauce, shredded cabbage, and cheese, and a miniature burger, beneath the tomato and pickle. And then you know this ain't your average steamed bun.

Ah, the Lettuce Dilemma: there was no way I was sticking any true lettuce, even Romaine, in there - I figured the tomato would wilt enough for gross factor - so I went with a small head of the youngest, tenderest, sweetest cabbage I could find, sliced very, very thin. Worked decently.

Big Mac Steam-Baked Buns
makes 12

Basic Steamed Bun Dough, a la this recipe (I 2/3rded this recipe, as these buns are larger than average)
1/2 cup sesame seeds

12 miniature burger patties (either cut them from Boca Vegans or try this insanely good mix), brushed with a mustard/EB mix
3 slices of vegan "American" cheese, quartered
3 small half-ripe Roma tomatoes, sliced thin
2 large dill pickles, sliced
3 scallions, white parts only, chopped
3 cups finely shredded young green cabbage (you're going to have leftover slaw- which is AWESOME - as it is deeeeelish on everything)
1 cup Veganaise
3 tablespoons ketchup
3 tablespoons sweet relish
Squirt o' mustard

Some assembly required.

Preheat your oven to 350f. 

Prep your patties by basting them with the EB/mustard mixture and baking them until they're close, but not quite, finished. Top with vegan cheese. Set aside.

Toss your shredded cabbage with the Veganaise, ketchup, mustard and relish. Mix well. Set aside.

Set a pan of simmering water on the bottom rack of your oven.

Cut your dough into 12 equal pieces. Keep the other pieces covered while you roll a chunk out on a lightly floured surface to a 6 inch diameter. Place first a patty, then a pickle, then tomato, then scallions, then the cabbage mix (about a tablespoon's worth) in the center of the dough. Wet the edges, and pinch it together in 4 places, then gently grab the gather and twist, creating a slightly swirled closure. Dust with sesame seeds (you might need to wet the top slightly to get them to adhere) and set aside on a lightly-oiled baking sheet.

Repeat until you've created all of your monsters.

Bake for 13-15 minutes, until they turn golden-brown. Under bake them slightly - you want a soft and chewy interior once you bite through the outer crust.

If you're prepping these an hour or two ahead of time, cover them with a towel and let them sit on the counter until it's party time.

Cheers, Dears!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Baby, it's cold outside.

Not really. High today in N Cakalaka - 65.

That doesn't mean that a huge bowl of salty-sweet, birds-eye-chili laden curry isn't going down my gullet, tho.

Used to be, Cheese Fondue was the holiday indulgence of choice in my casa around Xmas-time. And I'd inevitably feel like crap, after eating 2 pounds of cheese and a ton of toasty bread.

This year, we're going lighter - getting out the woks - searing some bok choy, frying some 'fu. Grabbing chopsticks instead of fondue forks. Eating more healthfully.

The coolest (read:cheesiest) part? It's red and green bonanza in this here curry, because nothing shows off the insanely gorgeous color palette de Ma Nature quite so nicely as a big bowl of stir fry.

Christmas Curry

1 red pepper, julienned
1/2 pound baby bok choy, cleaned, bottoms removed
1/2 can baby corn, rinsed
Green beans, large handful, trimmed
1 red onion, chopped
1 block tofu, drained
4 tablespoons sesame oil
1/2 small can red curry paste
1 can coconut milk (full fat please)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 bird's eye chilis, minced (honestly? I used 6. But I like my mouth to be on FIYAH)
1 1-inch piece of galanga
1/2 stalk lemon grass
4-6 kaffir lime leaves
8 fresh thai basil leaves
1 tablespoon sea salt
1.5 tablespoons palm sugar

Get the big wok out. No, not that one - the BIG ONE.

Drain your tofu and squeeze gently. Chop into 1 inch x 1 inch cubes.

Heat 2 tablespoons sesame oil over medium-high heat and stir fry your tofu until a crust forms, flipping often. If it gets sticky, add a little more oil. Drain on paper towels.

Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil to wok and turn heat to high. Add onion, garlic, curry paste, bird's eyes, pepper and green beans, and toss to coat with oil/curry paste. Cover to let steam for a minute. Stir again. Cover again. Add baby corn and bok choy, stir to coat. Cover for 2 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, stir, and simmer 5 minutes. Taste for salt.

Ah, the old bowl o' rice trick. Make a batch of jasmine rice, using a teeny bit more water than usual (helps to keep the rice sticky). Oil a small bowl, and press your freshly-cooked rice into it, packing it down. Invert bowl over your serving plate, tap gently, and remove.

Ladle curry around rice mountain, garnish with fried scallions and cilantro, and serve.

Happy Holidays, my dearies.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Falalalala, Fa-Laaaaaaaa-Chos!

So if everything's either nachos or a sandwich, then this is the ideal, perfectly rounded, eternal food - because it's both. At once. It's like an edible ying-yang. Taste the rainbow.

You won't miss the cheese. That yellow stuff? Red pepper hummus spiked with turmeric, just a pinch, for color's sake more than flavor's. Ladled over the pile like you would refried beans - warm and thin.

For me, falafel is like this: bite through the chewy pita, hit garlicy hummus, tahini starts running, then lettuce, tomato, onion, maybe - ah, there's the hot sauce - then warm, soft falafel, and crunchy pickles. Chew. Grin like your tongue just won the lottery.

They're all there, those textures, but here, you experience them differently. A little tahini, pickle, falafel this bite, crunchy pita, hot sauce, lettuce, another. Sometimes you get lucky and get it all on one chip. The better you build your pile, the easier that happens.

When I make nachos, here's how I do it:

Chips, first layer - toasted in the broiler
Tiny bit of protein (soy chorizo, mushroom mole, whateva you're using)
More chips
Drizzle of cashew sour cream
Shredded Lettuce

Falachos, pretty similar:

Pita Chips (cut pita or lavash into triangular chips, toss with a tblspoon of olive oil, tsp cumin, tsp salt, bake at 400 for 12 minutes)
Crumbled Falafel
More Chips
Tabbouleh Salsa (basically, all the veggies in tabbouleh minus the bulgar)
Pickle dice (Israeli pickles and pickled turnips, used here)
Hot sauce
more Tahini
Shredded Lettuce

You guys, I'm sure, have a fav hummus recipe, and although I've done fresh chickpea falafel in the past, this time I used the Fantastic Foods mix, which worked fine. But for ideal Falacho creation, I have two pieces of advice:

Get yee two reusable squeeze bottles - one for hot sauce, the other, tahini. Control your thinner sauces and paint with them, getting a bit of flavor on every chip.

Top your pile with something pretty and delicioso, like a well-aged Kalamata olive. The old "cherry-on-top" trick. Get's 'em every time.

Now, go make your own. And don't you dare pick up a fork.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Creamy Fall Vegetable Risotto

Arborio. Arboreal. Something creamy, warm and smoked, for my belly today (and yours?).

What have we there? Broccoli, fennel, mushroom, orange pepper, and onion, surrounded by perfectly al dente little bites of rice. Onion grass from the back yard (aka, foraged chives). And some decadently creamy cashew stock, with smoked black pepper and roasted garlic.

I was concerned the creaminess of the stock would interfere with the rice performing its magic, but no worries. Perfecto. And easy.

Creamy Fall Vegetable Risotto
serves 6 (or 3 hungry me's)

2.5 cups arborio rice
3 tablespoons canola or olive oil

5 cups water
2 tablespoons mushroom stock concentrate, or another strongly flavored vegetable stock
6 cloves roasted garlic
2/3 cup raw cashews
Smoked black peppercorns, to taste
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

2 cups mushrooms, sliced
Small fistful of fresh onion grass, minced
Fresh thyme, 1 1/2 teaspoons
Fresh sage, 3 leaves, minced (optional)
1 small head broccoli, tough stems removed, cut to florets
1 onion, diced
1 orange bell pepper, diced
1 small head fennel, sliced to rings

Salt, at the end, only if it needs it.

Roast your mushrooms, fennel, garlic (wrapped in foil, with a tsp of oil) and broccoli in the oven at 430f. Use the same roasting pan, toss them with a little oil, and remove them to a plate as they finish cooking (broccoli at 8 minutes or so, mushrooms at 10, fennel then or at 12, garlic at 18-20).

Throw the first 6 ingredients into your blender and puree until very smooth. Remove to a small saucepan and heat over medium low, keeping it warm.

In a large risotto or saute pan, heat your oil over medium-high heat. Add your onion and pepper, and cook 4 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Lower heat to medium-low.

Add your rice and stir to coat with the oil. Toss for 4-5 minutes, until each granule has a translucent "halo" around its edges. Now it is time to add the stock.

2/3 of a cup at a time, dears - stirring constantly. Cashews contain protein, so beware of rice trying to become one with the bottom of your pan. 20-22 minutes ought to get you through most if not all of your stock and see your rice to near perfection - if you need a little more water at the end, don't hesitate to use it.

Add a little more thyme or sage, if you'd like. Taste for salt.

Go at it while its still warm. Cheers!