Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Pumpkin Pie

I've been craving all things, pumpkin lately. Something about that fall bite in the air really has me wanting pumpkin......not to mention some of the things Vegan Dad has been posting. You'll be seeing those sweet rolls lurking around here soon!!!

I decided to satisfy my pumpkin craving with a pie. Before becoming vegan I was always commissioned to make the pies on Thanksgiving, so I thought I'd get started finding a suitable vegan pie. I wanted to avoid a pie that used tofu. I'm not scared of soy, but I do think it's best to limit it where we can. I also wanted to do something interesting to replace the evaporated milk that my usual pie called for. So, for this pie I just went with Ener-G egg replacer and coconut milk. The result was delicious, although less firm than I was hoping for. I'll post the recipe, just in case you are craving a pumpkin pie too.....but I plan to perfect this one a little, so look for it again in the coming months.

Vegan Pumpkin Pie

1 can pumpkin puree

3/4 cups packed light brown sugar

1 tsp salt

1 Tbs cornstarch

3/4 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

egg replacer for 3 eggs

1 can of coconut milk

Roll out one ball of dough into a circle 14 inches in diameter (freeze the other ball of dough for up to 2 weeks). Fit dough into a 10 inch pie plate, and create edges. Prick dough bottom with a fork and freeze until firm, about 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 425.

Cut out a circle of foil to fit in the bottom of the pie, fill pie with dried beans or pie weights and bake for 15 minutes. Remove pie crust from oven, discard beans, and reduce heat to 350.

Combine pumpkin, sugar, cornstarch, salt, spices, egg replacer and coconut milk in a large sauce pot and heat over medium heat. Be careful not to boil. Pour pumpkin mixture into crust, and bake until firm, about 50 minutes. If the crust gets too dark, cover edges with foil.

The pie will be loose in the center, but will continue to firm as it cools. Allow to cool on a wire rack until completely cooled. Transfer to refrigerator to cool for 2 hours or overnight. Serve chilled.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Fall is definitely upon us. The days are still warm (in the mid 80s), but the humidity is non-existent, and the mornings and evenings are cool and crisp. Not to mention, the farmers market is abundant, and the CSA is stocking us on winter squash.

This past week we received 2 large butternut squash, so I decided to make them into a soup. Served with a salad loaded with diced fall apples and dressed with maple-dijon vinaigrette, it was a delightful fall meal.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
(serves 8)

2 large butternut squash

2 large cloves garlic

2 Tbs olive oil

2 large carrots, cut in half lengthwise and sliced

2 stalks celery, sliced

1 medium sweet onion, diced

1 Tbs fresh thyme leaves

4 cups vegetable broth

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375. Cut squash in half lengthwise, and scoop out seeds. Place squash, cut side up in baking dish with about 1/4 inch water. Roast in oven until soft, about 45 minutes. While squash is roasting, place garlic cloves, skin on, in aluminum foil drizzled with olive oil, and roast along with squash.

In a large soup pot, heat 2 Tbs olive oil over medium-high heat and saute carrots, celery and onion, until soft. Stir in thyme and continue to cook until fragrant. Add vegetable stock and bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Once squash is cooked, scoop the flesh into a food processor along with the roasted garlic (skins removed) and puree until smooth and creamy. Add squash puree to soup, return to a boil and stir puree to loosen and combine, then reduce heat to simmer. Salt and pepper to taste, and keep warm until ready to serve. I left the vegetables whole in mine to keep it a little chunky, you could run your hand blender through it if you prefer a creamier, smoother soup.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Beef free Stew

This hearty stew will satisfy even the omnivores. It's thick and filling, and beef free!!

Beef-free Stew

3 Tbs olive oil

1 large onion, diced large

1 lb potatoes, diced bite-sized

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 bay leaves

1 lb baby carrots, cut into bite sized pieces

1/2 tsp celery seed

1 tsp thyme

1 tsp browning sauce

4 cup good quality vegetable stock

1 tsp vegan worcestershire sauce

1/2 tsp Bragg's Liquid Aminos

1 Tbs tomato paste

2 Tbs corn starch

1 cup frozen peas

2 cups fresh greens, chopped (I used chard)
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large stew pot over medium high heat. Add onion, cover and cook until translucent. Add potatoes, garlic, bay leaves and carrots and cook until veggies are starting to brown and soften. Add celery seed, thyme, and browning sauce and stir to combine. Then add stock. Bring to a boil, add worchestershire, Braggs and tomato paste, stir to combine and reduce heat to simmer. Simmer on low for about 45 minutes, until veggies are tender. Ladle out 1 cup of hot stock, add cornstarch to hot stock and stir to dissolve. Return cornstarch mixture to stew pot and stir to thicken. Add peas and greens and heat until greens are wilted. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve piping hot.

Spaghetti Squash Aglio e olio

A quick dish of Pasta Aglio e Olio, subbing spaghetti squash for the pasta. The spaghetti squash gave the dish an interesting twist, crushed red pepper gave it a little kick. This dish can be ready in the time it takes to roast the squash, about 30 minutes depending on the size of your squash. Just before the squash if finished cook 2 heaping tablespoons of minced garlic in about 1/4 cup of good quality olive oil over low to medium low heat. Be careful not to let the garlic burn by removing it from the heat just as it starts to brown. Toss the oil with the squash and serve.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Tofu Vindaloo

On Friday we decided to let the girls choose their own dinner, then we put them to bed and enjoyed a "date" in our basement. For our date meal we had Tofu Vindaloo from Vegan Planet. This stuff is hot, as vindaloo should be, but if you can't take the heat you might want to stay away from this recipe (it calls for 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper). Cooking this dish filled our house with the aroma of an Indian restaurant, it was great. We both enjoyed this dish, and our "date" very much. We're thinking of turning it into a weekly thing, so you might seem some more "adult-friendly" food here.
By the way, in case you wondered, the girls chose mashed potatoes, black beans, tortillas and apples as their dinner. Not something I would have come up with on my own, but quick and healthy so I can't complain!! I mean, we gave them the choice, there were many worse things they could have gone for.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Carnival Squash-Roasted Garlic Ravioli

I've had in mind to make some pumpkin ravioli soon, now that fall is in the air, and the evenings are starting to turn chilly. This week in our CSA box we got these beautiful Carnival Squash, so I decided to turn them into a filling for ravioli, instead of pumpkin. I also bought some of the biggest heads of garlic I've ever seen at the farmer's market today, so I wanted to incorporate those as well. The resulting dish was out of this world fabulous! Honestly, I'm still in shock that I created something so delicious right out of my own imagination!! The process of making your own pasta, and then turning it into ravioli is a little time consuming, but with this incredible filling, it's oh so worth it!!

Carnival Squash-Roasted Garlic Ravioli

2 carnival squash (or other winter squash)

1 head garlic

1 small candy onion (or other sweet variety of onion)

6 sprigs of fresh thyme

1 Tbs Olive oil, plus more for drizzling squash and garlic

3 sheets of fresh pasta, cut into 48 ravioli sized circles

1/2 cup Earth Balance

Preheat oven to 350. Cut squash in half, de-seed, and place in a dish with about 1/2 inch of water. Drizzle squash with olive oil and bake for about 45 minutes, until soft. Drizzle garlic with olive oil, wrap in foil and roast in oven while squash is baking. When squash and garlic are finished remove from oven and set aside to cool. While cooling heat olive oil in a small saute pan over medium high heat. Add onion and 4 sprigs of thyme (leaves only) and saute until onion is soft. Add squash flesh, garlic, and onions to food processor, season with salt and pepper, and process until a thick puree forms. At this time, set puree aside and get a large pot of water boiling. Also, melt Earth Balance with leaves from 2 more sprigs of thyme in a large saute pan. Place 1/2 Tbs of puree on 24 of your pasta circles. Top those circles with the reserved pasta circles, and using the tines of a fork, press edges to seal. Drop ravioli in boiling water (in batches of 8) and boil until pasta begins to float, about 1-2 minutes. Remove from water, with tongs, immediately and place in saute pan with melted Earth Balance. Lightly brown both sides of pasta in melted Earth Balance and remove to a platter. There will be extra puree left, it's nice to serve the ravioli over a large spoonful of puree for extra flavor.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Vegan Lasagna

This is something that I made much earlier in the week, but it's been kind of a strange week around here. It all started with a very bizarre wind storm on Sunday, the remnants of Hurricane Ike, still packing hurricane forced winds as it blew through Kentucky and Indiana. The storm left hundreds of thousands of people in our local area without power, water and telephones. We were fortunate enough to only be without power for 15 hours, some friends are still without power as I type. So, anyway, school has been closed for a week, and I've been keeping very busy with both girls at home........by the time evening falls, typing blog posts has been the last thing I've wanted to do.

You'll recall the Lasagna Spirals I made not long ago. Well, I decided to use that yummy tofu ricotta and make a full sized lasagna. I also got really ambitious in the kitchen and made my pasta from scratch as well. I love freshly made pasta, it just tastes so much better than the dried stuff. I use a recipe that came with my pasta roller and cutter attachment for my Kitchen Aid. The recipe calls for eggs, I just sub Ener-G for the eggs and it works beautifully. The lasagna consists of layers of my quick tomato sauce, fresh lasagna pasta, tofu ricotta, chunks of some veggeroni that I had left over, frozen spinach, and fresh tomatoes. On the top I sprinkle some shredded Follow Your Heart Mozzarella, and baked at 350, covered with foil until sauce is bubbly, then I removed the foil, turned the oven to broil and melted the FYH.

We haven't had a lasagna since going vegan, but after this one, I am sure we will have many, many more. Lasagna is one of those things that offers itself to infinite variations, and a great way to use up things in the fridge. .

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

Let's be clear before we even get started.....these in no way have any nutritional value, and perhaps aren't an ideal breakfast on a weekly basis, but on rare occasions, I say "what the heck, go ahead and indulge"!

Just like baking bread, there's something so satisfying about making these rolls from scratch. The end result is incredibly rewarding. I've done homemade cinnamon rolls a time or two before, but the recipes have always called for large amounts of eggs and egg yolks, so I decided to give it ago and try to create egg free cinnamon rolls. I have to say that the end product was quite nice. In fact, far better than many of their egg laden counterparts. And, quite professional looking to boot!

As with the ciabatta, cinnamon rolls aren't a spur of the moment decision.....unless of course you like to eat breakfast about 3 hours after you wake up (which happens to be lunch time around here, but hey, cinnamon rolls for lunch, who am I to judge??)

Vegan Cinnamon Rolls

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast

2 tsp sugar

3 tablespoons warm water

1 cup vanilla soy milk

2 tbs Earth Balance margarine

3 cups unbleached bread flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp nutmeg

pinch ground cinnamon

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 Tbs ground cinnamon

1 Tbs melted margarine

Mix yeast, sugar and warm water in a small bowl, stir to dissolve yeast and set aside until the mixture becomes frothy. Heat milk and margarine over low heat until warm, then remove from heat. Combine flour, salt, nutmeg and pinch of cinnamon in bowl of stand mixer fitted with dough hook. Turn on mixer briefly to combine dry ingredients. Slowly add milk and margarine mixture, followed by active yeast mixture. Continue to knead in mixer until dough becomes smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Turn dough out into a well oiled bowl and cover to let rise, about 1 1/2 hours, or until double in size.

Punch down dough and let rest for about 10 minutes. In a small bowl combine brown sugar and cinnamon. Turn dough out onto a well floured surface and roll into a 12x16 rectangle. Brush dough with melted margarine then spread cinnamon sugar mixture on dough, leaving about 1 inch at one end of the dough.

Tightly roll the rectangle, pinching dough as you go (the width of your roll should be 12 inches). When you get to the uncovered end, brush with margarine and press to seal roll. Cut roll into 12 equal parts, and lay them in a well greased baking dish, with as much distance as possible. Cover dish and allow to rise for about 45 minutes, or until all rolls are touching. If using the next morning, cover baking dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate over night.

Preheat oven to 350. Brush tops of rolls with melted margarine and bake for 30 minutes, or until rolls are slightly browned. Allow rolls to cool slightly, then frost while still warm. (I like the icing melted, and the rolls warm. You could cool the rolls completely to keep the icing from melting if you desire.)

Cinnamon Roll Frosting

1/4 cup Earth Balance

3/4 cup confectioners sugar

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 Tbs vanilla soy milk

Beat Earth Balance with a hand mixer until soft and fluffy. Add confectioners sugar in 3 batches, beating in between. Continue to beat margarine and sugar until fluffy. Add extract and soy milk and beat until well combined. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Moroccan Vegetable Tagine

Tonight wasn't exactly perfect weather for stew (it was 95 degrees today, and so humid the air actually felt heavy), but I've had my mind set on making a tagine for quite some time now. Not only did the Urban Vegan post a tagine recipe a few days ago, but Vegetarian Times also featured several tagine recipes in their current issue.

The Moroccan tagine is named for the vessel in which it is cooked. I don't have a proper tagine, but a large stock pot will work just as well. Traditionally tagine is slow cooked, however this is a relatively quick cooking version with some of the veggies broiled in the oven rather than braised on the stove top. This recipe is adapted from a recipe over at Vegan Soul Power, however, the recipe there didn't quite jive with the ingredient list and I increased the seasonings, so I'll post my version of the recipe here. I served the tagine over French Cous-Cous, with a side of pita for dipping (or stuffing......Mairin enjoyed her tagine stuffed inside the pita like a sandwich). The ingredient list looks long, but it should be mostly pantry staples (I think fresh thyme was the only thing I bought special for this dish)

Moroccan Tagine
1 large eggplant, quartered and sliced
2 zucchini, sliced
4 Tbs olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbs fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 medium yams, diced
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp paprika
1 Tbs ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 sprig fresh thyme
1/2 Tbs chili powder
1 8oz can tomato sauce
1 Tbs tomato paste
1 cup water
1 Tbs orange marmalade
2 cups cooked chickpeas
1 c. diced dried apricots
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat broiler. Place eggplant and zucchini in a colander and salt them liberally. Allow to sit a few minutes, then rinse, toss in 2 Tbs olive oil, place on a baking sheet and broil 20 minutes or until browned, turning once. In a large stock pot, heat remaining olive oil and add onion, garlic and ginger. Cook until onion is translucent then add potatoes. Add all spices, cover pot and allow potatoes to soften. Once potatoes are soft add tomato sauce, tomato paste, water and marmalade. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Add zucchini, eggplant, chickpeas and apricots. Cover and simmer 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve over couscous or grains.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Product Review

You might remember my review of Turtle Mountains, new So Delicious coconut milk based yogurt from a week or so ago. I mentioned that there was also a new line of coconut milk based ice creams that weren't available here yet. Well, guess what, last week they were finally available at our local Whole Foods. So of course, I snatched up a few. And again, the name says it all. These are Purely Decadent. In fact, I'm quite sure that all of the non-vegans out there would never even know this was dairy free. The coconut milk makes for a much smoother and creamier texture than soy based ice creams. And that subtle hint of coconut is divine. We've only tried the mint chocolate chip and cookie dough varieties, and I honestly can't say that I have a favorite, each is superb in it's own way. My only complaint with these products is that they are sweetened with agave, which would be a major plus, unless your toddler has an allergy to agave. These products claim to go above and beyond to avoid allergens (i.e peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, dairy, etc), that is of course unless you have an obscure allergy to agave. Oh well, I guess it just leaves more for me, because we of course can't eat it in front of her, which only leaves sneaking spoonfuls straight from the container late at night!!!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Lasagna Spirals

My kitchen window sill was being taken over by tomatoes and basil, so I needed something to do with it all, and fast. Now, I have no problem using up tomatoes, as I can just slice one on my plate, sprinkle it with salt and there you go. Basil, on the other hand, I'm limited in my scope of usage. So, I started perusing my cookbooks looking for the solution.

My initial plan was to make "Drunken" Noodles from Vegan Planet. So I go to the page it's supposed to be on, and lo and behold, my book is missing that page. My book is actually missing an entire section (and has 1 chapter printed twice). So, I figured that was out, and moved on to the next thing under "basil" in the index - Tomato Basil Lasagna Spirals. By making my own pesto (sans nuts and cheese) in addition to the other basil called for in the recipe, I was able to use up several cups of basil all in one meal.

This is probably my favorite vegan pasta dish, ever. It's a filling of tofu, pesto, garlic and shallots all rolled into a lasagna noodle, and baked in a simple home made tomato sauce. The filling is very much like ricotta, more so than other tofu ricotta's I've tried, and the tomato sauce really tastes authentic and slow cooked (and in reality it only cooks for a brief time). Everyone loved this pasta, the girls shoveled it in. Rob took the leftover pasta for lunch and said it was even better the next day.

Going back to that missing section from Vegan Planet.........I e-mailed Robin Robertson for the "Drunken" Noodles recipe, and she sent it straight away on Sunday evening (look for it to pop up here soon). To my surprise, yesterday I had an e-mail from both Robin and the publisher saying that a new copy of Vegan Planet was being sent to me!!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Ciabatta Bread

I've made ciabatta bread twice over the past few weeks. Last night's loaf, pictured above, was out of this world. It was so good warm from the oven, and tasted just like bread you'd get at your favorite Italian restaurant. It had a nice crusty shell, with that chewy, airy inside that you'd never image you could replicate at home.

Last year at this time we were in Italy on vacation, and believe me, I consumed A LOT of bread in those few weeks. Last night's ciabatta rivaled all of the bread I ate while visiting Italy. The real deal has nothing on this bread. I found the recipe here, and just subbed plain soy milk for the milk, otherwise I followed the recipe exactly.

Baking ciabatta takes a little planning, as you have to make the starter, or the sponge, the night before. But as long as you remember to get the sponge started, your fast on your way to delicious home made bread. All in all you'll need about 4 hours of rise time and 20 minutes of bake time. All of the kneading is done in a stand mixer, so there's almost no hands on time.

One caveat.....do not make this bread with All Purpose Flour. For my first attempt I had no bread flour on hand so subbed AP, the result was a deliciously flavored loaf of bread, but as you see below, it did not have that airy or chewy characteristic unique to ciabatta bread. You definitely need the extra gluten and barley flour found in bread flour to create a distinct loaf of ciabatta.

What are you waiting for, go get that sponge started and bake some ciabatta tomorrow!!!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Masoor Dal

I got the recipe for this Red Lentil (Masoor Dal) soup from Mothering.com a long time ago. It is a very mildly spiced Indian soup. Since red lentils cook quite quickly, it's a very quick meal to throw together on a busy night, and it's mild enough for the kids. When I went to the site to post the link to the recipe, it is no longer available, so I will copy the recipe here for you.

Red Lentil Soup with East Indian Spices
recipe by: Cynthia Lair

1 Tbs ghee (I used Earth Balance)

1 onion, chopped

2 Tbs minced garlic

1 tsp tumeric powder

1 tsp cumin powder

1/8 tsp cayenne

1 cup chopped tomatoes

1 cup dried red lentils

4 cups water

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp ghee (use Earth Balance)

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp mustard seeds

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Heat Earth Balance in a large pot, saute onions slowly until browned. Add garlic and spices and stir 2 to 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook until they break down. Wash and drain lentils. Add lentils and water to pot. Simmer 45 minutes (my lentils were cooked much sooner than 45 minutes), stirring often. Stir in salt. Heat 1 tsp EB in a small skillet and fry seeds over low heat until they pop. Stir fried seeds and cilantro into finished soup. Makes 4 servings. (I left out the fried seeds, I don't like the flavor and crunch that they add to the soup, for me it doesn't pair well with the smoother texture of the soup)

Friday, September 5, 2008

One Bite Brownies

Satisfy your sweet tooth with these delicious One Bite Brownies. They are perfect for when you need a quick chocolate fix, but feel too guilty to eat a whole brownie, cupcake or cookie. They are great stored in the refrigerator for a chocolate "pick-me-up" any time of day.

One Bite Brownies

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 cups white sugar

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup vanilla soy milk

1/4 cup vegetable oil

3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup semi-sweet vegan chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Spoon into mini muffin cups, filling cups almost full. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until top is no longer shiny. Remove from oven, let cool for 1 minute in pan, then remove to wire rack to cool. Makes 3 dozen mini brownies.